Eastern Illinois is intent on keeping head coach Chris Wilkerson at his alma mater. EIU announced four new contracts including Wilkerson’s two-year extension that will see him stay at EIU through 2028. Wilkerson is 10-12 in two years with the Panthers.
Wilkerson has been in charge of the Panthers since 2022 and his first season was rough going 2-9 overall and 1-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference. EIU posted wins versus Murray State and Northwestern State in back-to-back weeks but lost the other remaining games including four losses by a touchdown or less. In 2023, the Panthers made huge strides improving to 8-3 overall and narrowly missing out on the FCS Playoffs as one of the first four teams out of the bracket. EIU lost two games to FCS opponents by a combined margin of 8 points with a one-point loss against UT Martin and a touchdown loss at Southeast Missouri State.
In 2024, Wilkerson will have to contend with losing his offensive coordinator Joe Davis to their future conference foe Western Illinois. Wilkerson handed the OC duties to Kyle Derickson, previously the special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2022 and 2023. Derickson was part of Wilkerson’s staff when he was head coach of the NCAA Division III program at the University of Chicago. Wilkerson went 51-27 overall in his 8 seasons at Chicago from 2013 through 2021.
Eastern Illinois will begin the 2024 campaign against Illinois on Saturday, August 31. The Panthers will play its first six games within Illinois borders with subsequent games against Indiana State (home), Northwestern (road), and Illinois State (road) before it begins Big South-OVC play against Lindenwood (home) and Southeast Missouri State (home).
Photo Credit to Eastern Illinois University Athletics / Sandy King