Rick Willis
Rick Willis

The Lowell J. Walker Athletics Directorship Endowed Chair

Established in 1999 with a gift from the Lowell J. Walker estate

Rick Willis is director of athletics and head football coach. He came to Wartburg in 1997 as head football coach and left that position in 2005, when he was named director of athletics. He resumed his coaching career in 2008 and led the Knights to their 11th Iowa Conference football championship, eighth NCAA Division III playoff berth, and a run to the national quarterfinals.

Willis was named GTE Regional Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association following an unbeaten 1999 campaign. As defensive coordinator and head coach, Willis has guided the Knights to one of the nation's 10 best winning percentages, Iowa Conference championships in 1999, 2002, 2003, and 2004, and NCAA Division III playoff appearances in those same seasons. As an interim head softball coach, Willis took the program to national prominence during the 2003 season, leading Wartburg to an NCAA regional title and a tie for fifth at the Division III College World Series.

Before coming to Wartburg, Willis was the football defensive coordinator and head baseball coach at Wittenberg University. He graduated from Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, and earned his M.S. degree at the University of Illinois.


Lowell Walker had family ties to Wartburg. He enjoyed attending Artist Series, Christmas with Wartburg, and athletic events. His son, the late Dr. Richard Walker, chaired the health and physical education department and was head wresting coach. Two grandsons, Matthew '84 and Steven '91, graduated from Wartburg. Steve is now assistant athletic director, and his wife, Jennifer, is head volleyball coach. Walker spent 50 years at Waterloo Savings Bank as president and chairman of the board. A community leader and philanthropist, he also created a Wartburg scholarship in his son's memory.