Chip Pugh has spent countless years guiding students, whether it was making them faster and stronger as athletes, molding them into leaders or being a beacon to help direct them.
When the Tennessee Tech football team was looking for a new Director of Football Operations and Leadership Development, there was no doubt in who should be hired on.
Pugh, who spent the last five seasons as a Fellowship of Christian Athletes Character Coach for the Golden Eagle football team, rejoins the Tech Department of Athletics in this new role. He previously served as the Director of Athletic Performance from 2006 to 2013.
“I couldn’t be any more excited about this hire,” said Tech head football coach Dewayne Alexander. “Chip Pugh is an outstanding person, outstanding coach and mentor and he was very well thought of when he was our head strength coach.”
During his previous tenure, he oversaw the strength and conditioning for Tech’s athletic teams, including championship winners in football, baseball, softball, tennis, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball.
He hadn’t strayed far from athletics – from 2008, Pugh was an adjunct professor for the University, teaching courses in the Exercise Science and Physical Wellness curriculum and mentoring students who planned to pursue strength and conditioning coaching as a career.
Pugh was also a campus minister and the director of Collegeside Church of Christ’s University Christian Student Center, just off campus.
He also helped found the Faith RXD Sport Ministry in 2013 and worked as a spiritual development coach.
“He’s always remained close to the athletics program, especially to the football program after he left the strength position and went into the ministry,” Alexander said. “He’s always been a friend to the football program. He’s been involved with many of the players, so this couldn’t have worked out any better.”
And Pugh had been on Alexander’s mind even from the start.
“When I interviewed for the head coaching position, Chip was someone I reached out to and talked to about that if I had gotten the head coaching job here, would he be interested in getting involved again with the football program,” he said.
“When we had the opportunity for a position to come open, I spoke to Chip about that, then talked to (Tech director of athletics) Mark Wilson and (associate athletic director) Tammie McMillan about restructuring the position a little bit besides just football ops, but also adding the character and leadership development piece to it, because that is so key right now. I don’t know how you build a football program and not be able to develop these young men off the field.”
Alexander continued, “I obviously want us to be the best team in Football Championship Subdivision football on the field, but I also want to provide the best for these guys off the field. Chip is someone who will not only help our players in this area, but will also be a good mentor and can help our coaches with the unity of our staff and our football team.”
He came to Cookeville in 2006, following three years as the head strength and conditioning coach at Winthrop University. He served in the same role with Marietta College’s football team from 2002 to 2003, while also taking on a campus minister role at nearby 6th and Washington Church of Christ.
Pugh got his start in 2000 as he was a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at Ohio University, his alma mater. He earned his bachelor’s degree in sports industry with a minor in interpersonal communications in 2000, then followed it up with a master’s in physical education with a specialization in coaching in 2001.
During his career, he has been certified by the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2003, the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches’ Association in 2004, USA Weightlifting in 2006 and CrossFit (Level 1, 2009; Football, 2009; Endurance, 2009; Olympic Lifting, 2011).
Pugh is married to the former Nicole Carey, and has two daughters, Rory and Reagan.