Aker to lead Lawrence football program

Tony Aker headshot
Tony Aker is Lawrence's new football coach.

APPLETON, Wis. -- Tony Aker is the new leader of the Lawrence University football program, Director of Athletics Christyn Abaray announced today.

Aker is the 29th head coach of the Vikings, who played their first season of football back in 1893. Aker comes to Lawrence from Carroll University, where he was serving as the interim head coach of the Pioneers. 

"We are excited to have Coach Aker and his family join the Lawrence University team," Abaray said. "Tony is the right person at the helm to steer our program forward – implementing the steps to build, piece by piece. His experience, knowledge and energy represent what we will do – bring our Wisconsin and regional talent to Lawrence while continuing to embrace our national footprint, grow and develop our football scholar-athletes into leaders of the world and be active members of the community."

Aker spent the last four seasons at Carroll, a member of the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, serving as associate head coach/offensive coordinator and coaching the quarterbacks. 

"I'm beyond thrilled and excited to be named head football coach at Lawrence," Aker said. "I want to extend my thanks to President (Mark) Burstein, Christyn Abaray and the search committee for entrusting me to lead this great program. I look forward to developing our current Lawrentians both on and off the football field, establishing great relationships with our many alumni and working relentlessly to bring the best and brightest future Vikings from our great state, region and beyond."

Aker, who has deep recruiting ties in Wisconsin and the Chicago area, quickly established himself as an invaluable member of the Carroll athletics department. He has hired and mentored staff, worked closely with student-athletes in a multitude of roles and also served on search committees as Carroll filled key roles on its staff. Aker received Carroll's exclusive Ethos Award for Respect in 2019.

"My family and I are excited to become members of the Lawrence community as well as our greater Fox Valley community," Aker said. "It truly is a great time to be a Viking."

Aker began his coaching career at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. An All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection at Stevens Point, Aker earned a bachelor's degree in sociology in 2012 and is working toward a master's degree in education.

Aker worked in a variety of coaching roles with the Pointers over five seasons. Aker served as passing game coordinator during the 2014 and 2015 seasons and also coached wide receivers, fullbacks, tight ends and special teams during his tenure. He coached six All-WIAC selections and a pair of All-West Region choices. Also under his guidance were six academic all-region choices and a two-time College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-American.

Aker moved to Carroll in 2016 and guided a prolific offense for the Pioneers. He and coached the most successful passer in Carroll history, Kyle Burlingame, and also coached All-CCIW wide receivers Brandon Ehrke and Preston Bell. 

A native of Bloomington, Ind., Aker moved to Wisconsin as a teen and was a star athlete at Brown Deer High School. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel chose Aker as its Wisconsin Athlete of the Year in 2005, and he was inducted into Brown Deer's Hall of Fame in 2015. He spent two years at Rochester Community and Technical College where he was an National Junior College Athletic Association All-American and two-time all-region performer. Aker helped lead his team to the 2007 NJCAA national championship.

Lawrence has a storied football history that dates back to the 19th century. Lawrence is a charter member of the Midwest Conference and has won 16 league championships. Prior to the establishment of the Midwest Conference, Lawrence captured six Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association titles. 

Lawrence was the first team in Midwest Conference history to receive an NCAA Division III playoff berth, and the Vikings were the first team to win a Division III playoff game. Lawrence also boasts 58 All-Americans and six CoSIDA Academic All-Americans. Running back Scott Reppert of the class of 1983 was a three-time All-American, an Academic All-American and is the only player in Midwest Conference history to be chosen for the College Football Hall of Fame.

Aker makes his coaching debut with the Vikings when they open the 2020 season on Sept. 5 at Finlandia University.