By: John Lewandowski/ULM Athletics
MONROE, La. – ULM head football coach Matt Viator has signed a 2-year contract extension through the 2022 season, according to an announcement made Thursday, June 25 by Athletics Director Scott McDonald. Viator’s contract extension was approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System earlier today.
All other components of the contract remain the same.
Since joining the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, Matt Viator is the first ULM coach to post a .500 record in league games in three-straight seasons. In 2019, the Warhawks finished 5-7 and fell one win shy of becoming bowl eligible for the second year in a row. ULM was one of five NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision programs to average at least 200 rushing yards and 250 passing yards per game last season, joining Clemson, Ohio State, Oklahoma and UCF. The Warhawks ranked second in the league in total offense (460.9 yards per game) and third in passing offense (253.7 ypg.). Defensively, ULM finished fifth in Sun Belt with 18 takeaways.
With a 38-10 victory at South Alabama in 2018, ULM (6-6) became bowl eligible for the first time since 2013. The Warhawks entered the final weekend of the 2018 regular season with a chance to claim at least a share of the West Division title.
“We’re fortunate to have Matt Viator at the helm of the ULM football program,” McDonald said. “He is widely recognized as one of the top head coaches in the Sun Belt Conference. Our program has made great strides over the last four seasons, the last two years in particular, narrowly missing becoming bowl eligible in consecutive seasons.
“Continuity is key for on-the-field success, so with the contract extension, we wanted to acknowledge and reward Coach V for the stability, excitement and competitiveness, he has brought to our program. Also, during these uncertain times with the COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot think of a better coach to provide steady and decisive leadership to our program. His primary focus remains ensuring the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaching and support staffs.
“Coach V has a vision and game plan for building a championship-caliber program, and I’m confident that our University will be rewarded for its commitment.”
“I’m grateful for the confidence that Scott McDonald and the University administration have in our football program,” Viator said. “Over the last four years, we’ve put a lot of time and effort into building a solid foundation for the program.
“We’re disappointed with the way last season ended, but we’re not discouraged. We know many hurdles still remain, but we’re headed down the right path of achieving our ultimate goals of competing for Sun Belt Championships and playing in bowl games.”
In his first four seasons, a total of 31 ULM players have received All-Sun Belt recognition while two Warhawks have earned second-team All-America honors, including all-purpose player Marcus Green in 2017 and cornerback Corey Straughter in 2019.
Considered as one of the top offensive minds in the Sun Belt, Viator will assume the play-calling responsibilities in 2020. ULM has amassed at least 400 yards of total offense in 24 of its last 36 games.
“Under Coach V’s leadership, the ULM football brand is as strong as it’s been in quite some time,” McDonald said. “Look at the increased attendance figures as well as the number of national television appearances.”
ULM home football attendance has increased 68 percent since the 2017 season. Average home attendance in Malone Stadium increased by 6,800 fans per game to 16,728 in 2019, compared to 9,928 per game in 2017.
A crowd of 28,327 witnessed ULM’s 2019 season opener against Grambling State – the second-largest attendance for a Sun Belt Conference home game last season.
In addition, ULM football played in six nationally televised games during the 2019 season, including four on ESPNU (Memphis, Texas State, Arkansas State and Louisiana Lafayette), one on FS1 (Iowa State) and one on the ACC Network (Florida State).