PENSACOLA, Fla. -- West Florida has named Pete Shinnick the first head coach in the program’s history. Football will be the 15th varsity sport at UWF, and the team will begin playing in Fall 2016.
Shinnick most recently coached at North Carolina-Pembroke, where he was hired in 2005 to bring football back to the university after an absence of more than 50 years. He built the Braves into a nationally ranked NCAA Division II team and compiled a record of 50-24 in seven seasons. Before bringing football back to UNC Pembroke, Shinnick made his mark as head coach of former NAIA powerhouse Azusa Pacific. In seven years with the Cougars, his teams posted a mark of 53-22 and earned two national semifinalist finishes.
“Pete checked off all the boxes for qualities we were looking for in a candidate,” UWF athletic director Dave Scott said. “I don’t think we could have found a better person and coach to fill this position. We’re fortunate to have found a coach that has done this all before. It’s one thing to be a great coach, but it’s another to have started a program from scratch. It’s truly a unique skill.”
Shinnick was announced as UNCP’s head coach in December 2005, and the team began playing in 2007. After a 4-7 record the first season, the Braves averaged nearly eight wins in their next six years. Shinnick led the team to nine wins each in 2008 and '09, and the 2009 team became the youngest program (three years) to advance to the NCAA Division II playoffs.
In his seven years coaching at UNCP, Shinnick finished with a record of 50-24 (.676 winning percentage). The second-year team in 2008 finished as the NCAA Division II statistical national champion in scoring defense (11.2 points allowed per game), and it ranked sixth in the same category the following year (15.1). He led the Braves back to their second NCAA tournament in 2013, as the team earned a first-round bye into the round of 16. The 2013 team was also ranked as high as No. 8 in the AFCA national poll.
Before building the program at UNC Pembroke, Shinnick excelled in his seven years as head coach at Azusa Pacific in Azusa, Calif. He took over in 1999 and saw immediate success, as the Cougars posted a record of 9-3 and advanced to the NAIA semifinals. Shinnick posted a record of 53-22 (.707 winning percentage) and the team made five total appearances in the NAIA playoffs, including a trip back to the semifinals in 2004.
Before getting his first head coaching job at Azusa Pacific, Shinnick received a varied experience as an assistant coach at multiple levels. His first assistant coach position was at Richmond in 1988, and he coached at six more schools (Arkansas, Clemson, Oregon State, Northern Michigan, St. Cloud State, Humboldt State) before landing at Azusa Pacific in 1999.
Shinnick graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business from Colorado in 1988.