Simon Fraser University names Mike Rigell interim head coach; Thomas Ford leaves for Power 5 NCAA program

Photo courtesy: Simon Fraser University Athletics

Simon Fraser University has named Mike Rigell interim head coach of the university’s NCAA football program.

Rigell previously served as the program’s recruiting coordinator, special teams coach and receivers coach. Rigell succeeds Thomas Ford who will be taking a coaching role at a Football Bowl Subdivision Power 5, NCAA Division 1 program.

“I am really excited to name Coach Rigell as interim head coach of our football program”, Theresa Hanson, Simon Fraser director of athletics, said. “Mike has proven to be passionate about SFU Football and dedicated to providing an outstanding experience for our student-athletes. His strong work ethic, together with his ability to recruit and build relationships will only continue to move our program forward”.

Rigell started his football career as a standout player at FBS NCAA Division 1 program Brigham Young University, winning numerous awards, including Honourable Mention All-Mountain West Conference and Honourable Mention media All-Mountain West Conference Honors. Rigell continued his playing career in the Arena Football League, competing for the Utah Warriors, Tri-Cities Fever and Rapid City Aces from 2003-2006.

After a successful playing career, Rigell served as special teams coordinator and running backs/receivers coach at Snow College (2014-2016) and the University of Puget Sound (2013-14). He held similar roles at New Mexico Highlands in 2012 and at Idaho State in 2011.

Rigell also worked with the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs on a Bill Walsh Minority Fellowship. He holds a bachelor of arts and communications in broadcast journalism from BYU and is set to receive a masters in special education and mental health therapy in May.

“I’m feeling extremely blessed right now, blessed to have the opportunity but blessed by the administration, the team, alumni and support staff. I feel like I have a strong crew behind me,” Rigell said.

“I feel like our future is bright with a new stadium on the horizon and a great recruiting class coming in. We will have some adjustments to make but we are trending in the right direction. Thomas [Ford] did an outstanding job building the foundation of the program.”

Simon Fraser thanked Ford for his hard work during the past two seasons with the program. Ford led Simon Fraser to its first conference win in four years, and contributed to a positive cultural transformation.

“I want to thank Theresa Hanson and Breanne Watson for their unquestioned support throughout every minute of my time at SFU. To our players, I can never express the gratitude I have for each of you buying into our culture and program,” Ford said in a statement. 

“It was a privilege leading the SFU program and I know that the team is in great hands. Coach Rigell brings a wealth of experience and knowledge. He cares tremendously about the players and understands all the ins and outs of building a program specifically at SFU. I have no doubts about Rigell and know him and his staff will get the job done.”

According to TSN reporter Farhan Lalji, it is expected Ford will join the University of Washington coaching staff.