SPOKANE, Wash. -- Rod Sandberg, a longtime defensive assistant coach at Wheaton (Ill.), has been selected as the head  coach at Whitworth.

Sandberg will be introduced to Spokane and the Whitworth community at an on-campus press conference late Tuesday afternoon. He succeeds John Tully, who resigned in November following 19 years as the Pirates’ head coach.

“I’m very excited to welcome coach Sandberg as Whitworth’s new head football coach,” Whitworth President Beck A. Taylor said. “In my many conversations with Rod, he has demonstrated not only great leadership and coaching strengths, but he also understands and embraces Whitworth’s mission. It will be fun to see where Rod will take the Pirates.”

Sandberg has served as the Thunder defensive coordinator since 2003 and he has been on Wheaton’s staff as the linebackers’ coach since 1995. In addition he has served as the team’s recruiting coordinator.

“We have hired a head football coach who strongly resonates with our mission and values, both institutionally and in the athletics department,” said Melinda Larson, Whitworth’s interim director of athletics.

Sandberg, who has coached seven NCAA Division III All-Americans and 49 all-conference players during his tenure at Wheaton, had been coveted by other schools as a possible head coaching candidate throughout his time with the Thunder. 

“It became clear to me during the interview process that Whitworth University is a special place,” Sandberg said. “The players, faculty and the administration are the kind of people I want to align myself with.”