Warhawk Almanac: Lance Leipold: UW-Whitewater Football Legend

[This post was researched and written by Jacob Ober.]

Lance Leipold, current head coach for the Kansas Jayhawks football team, led them to their first bowl appearance in 15 seasons in 2022 after joining the program in 2021. Leipold, however, got his start as a backup quarterback for the UW-Whitewater Warhawks in 1983, working his way up to become the starting quarterback in his junior and senior seasons. After his playing days were over, Leipold got into coaching, eventually becoming the head coach of the UW-Whitewater Warhawks in 2007. Over his coaching career at UW-Whitewater, Lance Leipold led the Warhawks to six Division III National Championship victories before moving to the Division I football program at Buffalo in 2014 and then, in 2021, the Kansas Jayhawks.

Lance Leipold, #9
Leipold (#9) hands the ball off to his running back during the 1986 season. UW-Whitewater. 1987 Minneiska, n.d. https://jstor.org/stable/community.30477060.

Leipold became the starting quarterback for the UW-Whitewater Warhawks in 1985. During the 1985 season, he set a school record for completions and passing yards in a game with 37 completions and 474 yards against UW-River Falls, records that still stand today.1 After his playing career, Leipold bounced around as an assistant coach for various programs, including UW-Whitewater, Doane College, Wisconsin, Nebraska-Omaha, and Nebraska, before being named head coach of the UW-Whitewater Warhawks in 2007.2 During his tenure at UW-Whitewater from 2007-2014, Leipold led the Warhawks to six Division III National Championship titles, including a three-peat from 2009-2011 and five undefeated seasons. Leipold compiled a win-loss record of 109-6 as head coach of the Warhawks, becoming the fastest coach in NCAA history to record 100 victories with a win over UW-Eau Claire in 2014.3 Only twice in his tenure at UW-Whitewater did Leipold’s Warhawks team fail to win the national championship, setting the bar for success at UW-Whitewater tremendously high.

Leipold and 2014 National Championship Team
Leipold hoists 2014 Division III National Championship trophy in his final game as coach of the UW-Whitewater Warhawks. Craig Schreiner, Former Warhawk head coach Lance Leipold raised the national championship trophy for the sixth time in eight years as head coach at UW-Whitewater in 2014, UW-Whitewater Athletics, Whitewater, WI, https://uwwsports.com/news/2021/4/30/lance-leipold-named-head-football-coach-at-kansas.aspx.

Following the 2014 season, Leipold left the Warhawks for Division I college in Buffalo, where he led them to a 37-33 record and two bowl victories from 2015-2020.4 After the 2020 season, Leipold left Buffalo for the Kansas Jayhawks. Following a disappointing first season with only 2 wins, Leipold led the Jayhawks to their first bowl appearance in 2022 and their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010.5 As Coach Leipold takes other programs to new heights, we shall never forget his humble beginnings as a backup quarterback at UW-Whitewater and his lasting impact as head coach of the Warhawk football team.

  1. Dave Ehrhardt, “Despite air-Berezowitz, Warhawks Defeated 35-28,” The Royal Purple (Whitewater, WI), October 30, 1985. ↩︎
  2. “UW-Whitewater Hires Leipold, Manitowoc Herald-Times, January 4, 2007. ↩︎
  3. “Lance Leipold Fastest to 100 Wins,” ESPN.com, October 18, 2014. ↩︎
  4. “Lance Leipold,” Sports Reference College Football, Accessed October 31, 2023. ↩︎
  5. “Lance Leipold Bio,” KUAthletics.com, Accessed October 31, 2023. ↩︎
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