SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. –– Shepherd University vice president for athletics Chauncey Winbush announced Wednesday that head football coach Monte Cater is retiring. Additionally, Winbush announced that longtime assistant coach Ernie McCook will take over the head coaching duties.

Cater has amassed a 245-93-1 (.724) record in his 31 years as head coach at Shepherd. He was the winningest active NCAA (all levels) football coach at the time of his retirement with 274 career victories.

Cater led the Rams to 17 conference titles (1988, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017) and 13 postseason appearances (1991, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017).

Shepherd had six undefeated regular seasons (2005, 2006, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017) under Cater. He is the all-time winningest football coach in WVIAC and MEC history. His 245 wins at Shepherd are the most by any collegiate football coach at a college or university in West Virginia.

The Rams won three Super Region One titles (2010, 2015, 2016) under Cater and were national finalists in 2015. Shepherd won the Division II Lambert Award in 2015 and 2016. The award is symbolic of supremacy in Eastern college football.

Cater garnered Vince Lombardi Foundation Coach of the Year honors in 2016. The award encompasses all divisions and is not given on a yearly basis.

"After 31 years at Shepherd University and 47 years in the football coaching profession, I am announcing my retirement effective at the end of the Spring academic term," said Monte Cater. "The people I've met, the coaches and players I've been fortunate to work with and coach, have made this a truly outstanding and unforgettable experience. It's really tough to stop doing the one thing you always wanted to do, and have been able to do just that. I am going to miss a great many people, but I am especially happy for Coach Ernie McCook and the rest of the staff that will make a smooth transition for Shepherd football."

"It's truly hard to believe that the legendary coaching career of Monte Cater has come to an end," said vice president for athletics Chauncey Winbush.  "Monte represents everything that is great about college athletics. Those that have played for and coached with him or have had an opportunity to interact with Monte, are so lucky to have done so." 

McCook takes over the coaching reins after serving as an assistant at Shepherd for 18 years. He served as offensive coordinator for nine years and was offensive line coach for 10 years for Shepherd from 1999-2008. McCook was elevated to assistant head coach in 2007. He spent the 2009 season as running game coordinator/tight ends coach at Liberty University before returning to Shepherd the next season. McCook served as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at Shepherd since 2010.

McCook's offense has consistently ranked among the NCAA II leaders in several categories. He led a Shepherd offense in 2017 that ranked third nationally in scoring offense (45.6), fifth in total offense (507.1), sixth in passing offense (324.6), and seventh in team passing efficiency (166.90)

McCook has been instrumental in the development of several standouts players at Shepherd including Rimington Award winner Ryan Pope, All-American linemen Isaiah Shelton and Lavonte Hights, All-American running backs Damian Beane, Dalevon Smith, and Dervon Wallace, quarterbacks Dan Chelbowski, Jeff Ziemba, and Connor Jessop, as well as a pair of All-Americans in tight end Dominique Jones and wide receiver Billy Brown.

Prior to Shepherd, McCook served as an assistant at Frostburg State University. McCook also had coaching stints at Wesley College and Susquehanna University.

McCook, a 1992 Wesley graduate, was an offensive lineman for the Wolverines. He gained a master's degree in sport science-sport management from the United States Sports Academy in 1999.

"I am honored and humbled to follow Coach Cater as Shepherd's next head football coach," stated Ernie McCook. "Shepherd has become a part of who I am and has been my family's home for close to 20 years. I feel extremely blessed and I'm looking forward to the challenge of continuing the high standards set by Coach Cater." 

"I am truly excited for Ernie McCook," added Winbush. "Ernie has been a huge part of the success of our football program.  I believe the continuity that he will bring to the program will allow us to build on what Coach Cater started."

The Cater Era at Shepherd University
 
Year      School                    Record      Notes
1987      Shepherd.................... 4-6-0      T-4th/WVIAC
1988      Shepherd................... 6-4-0      WVIAC Champions
1989      Shepherd.................... 3-7-0      T-5th/WVIAC
1990      Shepherd.................... 6-3-1      2nd/WVIAC
1991      Shepherd................... 8-3-0      WVIAC Champions
1992      Shepherd................... 9-3-0      WVIAC Champions
1993      Shepherd.................... 5-5-0      T-2nd/WVIAC
1994      Shepherd................... 6-4-0      WVIAC Co-Champions
1995      Shepherd.................... 3-7-0      5th/WVIAC
1996      Shepherd.................... 7-3-0      3rd/WVIAC
1997      Shepherd................... 9-1-0      WVIAC Co-Champions
1998      Shepherd................. 10-2-0      WVIAC Champions
1999      Shepherd................... 9-2-0      WVIAC Champions
2000      Shepherd.................... 7-3-0      3rd/WVIAC
2001      Shepherd.................... 8-2-0      T-2nd/WVIAC
2002      Shepherd.................... 7-3-0      T-2nd/WVIAC
2003      Shepherd.................... 4-6-0      T-2nd/ WVIAC
2004      Shepherd................... 7-3-0      WVIAC Champions
2005      Shepherd................. 11-1-0      WVIAC Champions
2006      Shepherd................. 11-1-0      WVIAC Champions
2007      Shepherd................. 10-2-0      WVIAC Champions
2008      Shepherd.................... 5-5-0      6th/WVIAC
2009      Shepherd.................... 6-4-0      4th/WVIAC
2010      Shepherd................. 12-2-0      WVIAC Champions/Super Region One Champions
2011      Shepherd.................... 9-2-0      T-2nd/WVIAC
2012      Shepherd................... 8-3-0      WVIAC Champions
2013      Shepherd................. 11-1-0      MEC Champions
2014      Shepherd.................... 8-2-0      2nd/MEC
2015      Shepherd................. 13-1-0      MEC Champion/Super Region One Champions/National Runner-up
2016      Shepherd................. 13-1-0      MEC Champions/Super Region One Champions
2017      Shepherd................. 10-1-0      MEC Champions

Record at Shepherd:..................... 245-93-1 (.724) (31 years)
MEC Record:...................................... 48-2 (.960) (5 years)
WVIAC Record:........................... 135-42-1 (.761) (26 years)
Overall WVIAC Championships:...................................... 13
Overall MEC Championships:........................................... 4
WVIAC-MEC Coach-of-the-Year Honors:......................... 13
(1991, 1992, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017)