Kansas City, MO - Eric Hicks, who spent last season as the defensive line coach for the Eagles, has been tabbed as the new head coach of the Avila University Football program, the athletic department announced Friday.
"It is an honor to be added to the tradition of a university that has stood the test of time, and to get the opportunity to lead this football program," Hicks said. "I want to thank President Ron Slepitza and the athletic administration for this opportunity. I believe this program has the potential to grow into one of the strongest in the area, and I'm just excited to get things going."
Hicks, an Erie, Pennsylvania native, will be the fifth head football coach in the program's 17-year history. Hicks will replace Justin Berna
, who resigned on April 17 to take the head coaching position at West Hills College in Coalinga, California. Prior to joining Avila, Hicks spent two seasons as the outside linebacker coach at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Hicks received his Master of Science in Kinesiology from Lamar University in the fall of 2014.
Hicks played collegiately at the University of Maryland, starting all four years on the defensive line before signing with the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL) as an undrafted free agent ahead of the 1998 season. Hicks was a part of the NFL for ten years, spending nine seasons as a member of the Chiefs before spending his final season with the New York Jets. Hicks returned to the University of Maryland to earn his degree after his NFL career, earning his Bachelor of Science in Criminology in the spring of 2012.
"Eric brings a certain enthusiasm to our football program that we feel will help enhance the experience for our student athletes both on and off the field," Athletic Director Cristina Cowan said. "Eric earned the respect of the players as an assistant coach last season, and with his background in not just the NFL, but at other smaller universities, he will be able to hit the ground running."
Hicks grew up in a small Pennsylvania town and spent his formative years in the Catholic school system, graduating from Mercyhurst Preparatory High School. Hicks was a two-sport athlete at Mercyhurst Prep, and graduated in 1994. Hicks was awarded the Mercyhurst Preparatory School Distinguished Alumni Award for career and service in 2008, and was inducted into their athletics hall of fame that same year.
"Growing up in the parochial system allowed me to embrace the values that Avila University stands for," Hicks said. "My philosophy is built around trust, loyalty and faith, which fits in extremely well here at Avila."
The Eagles have two more weeks of spring practice before the annual Purple-White game, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 6 at the Zarda Multisport Complex on campus.