SAN JOSE, Calif. – The all-time winningest coach in the Naval Academy, Ken Niumatalolo, will be San José State’s 30th head football coach in program history, announced Director of Athletics Jeff Konya on Sunday. Niumatalolo won a program-best 109 games, led Navy to 10 bowl games over 15 seasons and is a three-time American Athletic Conference (AAC) Coach of the Year (2015, '16, '19). He earned the 2019 Stallings Award, presented to the college football head coach who is both a humanitarian and an exceptional head coach.
“We are thrilled that Coach Niumatalolo has accepted the opportunity to lead our football program,” said Konya. “He is a proven winner and brought the Naval Academy to unprecedented heights by winning eight or more games in nine seasons during his tenure. It’s impressive when you see that he had success against national brands like Notre Dame, Virginia, Kansas State and Pittsburgh, and even finished ranked inside the top 25 twice. We believe he is the right fit to build off the foundation laid here at San José State and will have the Spartans competing for Mountain West championships on a consistent basis.”
Niumatalolo started his reign in Annapolis with eight straight wins over Army and 10 overall, which is the most in the history of the rivalry game. Navy won 6-of-10 bowl games during Niumatalolo’s tenure and picked up wins over Pittsburgh and Kansas State after posting a school record 11-2 marks in 2015 and ’19, finishing inside the top 25 for the first time in the last 60 years.
"We are thrilled to welcome Coach Niumatalolo into our Spartan community," said SJSU President Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson. "Throughout his career, Coach Niumatalolo has led with integrity and a commitment to inspiring student-athletes to be successful on and off the field. We are confident Coach Niumatalolo will continue to build a strong Spartan football program focused on student success and making a positive impact in our community.
"I look forward to working with Coach Niumatalolo and Athletics Director Jeff Konya to ensure our football program is an integral part of San José State University’s mission, vision and values. Thank you to Jeff and everyone involved in the search for our new leader. Go Spartans!"
Niumatalolo, 58, helped Navy earn the Lambert Trophy in 2015, awarded to the best team in the East, for the first time since 1963. He led Navy to its first outright division title in 2016 going 7-1 in the AAC, winning the West division, and is the only coach in Navy history to win three-consecutive bowl games. His six bowl wins and six Commander-In-Chief trophies are the most in Navy history.
In 2015, Niumatalolo was one of four coaches to be named a finalist for the Dodd Trophy and the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Award. In 2016, he was a Dodd Trophy finalist again and was named AFCA Region 1 Coach of the Year. In 2019, he was a Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Award for the second time in his career.
In 2013, Niumatalolo was selected to the inaugural class of the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame and was the second Polynesian head coach in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) history and the first Samoan collegiate head coach on any level.
The La‘ie, Hawai‘i native played quarterback at Hawai‘i from 1987-89 and was part of their first bowl team in 1989. After he graduated, he then joined head coach Paul Johnson’s staff at Hawai‘i first as a graduate assistant and then eventually as a full-time assistant (1990-94).
In 1995, Niumatalolo followed Johnson to Navy first as the running backs coach and then in 1997 was named the offensive coordinator. His first stint at Navy lasted from 1995-98 before he left to go to UNLV to be tight ends coach/special teams coordinator from 1999-2001. Niumatalolo returned to Navy in 2002 to be assistant head coach under Johnson until taking over head coaching duties in 2007.
Niumatalolo and his wife, Barbara, have three children, Alexcia, Va’a and Ali’i and five granddaughters, Aussie Keanani, Rosie Momi, Jada Keala, Barbara Lilia and Ivory Meli.
"I want to thank Daniel Parker and Parker Executive Search for their assistance in this national search for a new head football coach," said Konya. "We had a great deal of accomplished candidates that all would have been an excellent selection. I also want to thank President Teniente-Matson and Scott MacDonald for their excellent work during this process."