Ferrum College introduces Cleive Adams as new head football coach

Adams becomes 8th coach in program history

FERRUM, Va. – Director of Athletics John Sutyak introduced Cleive Adams as the 8th head football coach in Ferrum College history. The former Ferrum player and assistant coach comes to the Panthers from Averett, and is ready to instill the traditions that molded him as a player, person and coach.

“It really just comes down to understanding what a Ferrum guy is, what a Ferrum family is. And going out there and being selective about who we’re recruiting and also just understanding who we are. I talk about it all the time the past 6 years, it’s a boring brand of football: Do your job, do your job. Don’t be the first to blink. Be extremely tough, play very hard and at the end of the day just playing with that black hat pride. We want it to be special and it’s going to continue to be special,” Adams said.

Adams expressed that his is thankful to be home, and explained that his philosophy is built on family and building the lives of others. Having played at Ferrum under Hank Norton, Adams is well versed on the Ferrum tradition and the expectations that wearing a 'Black Hat’ brings.

Adams has spent the past six years as head coach at Averett University. In his six seasons at Averett, Adams posted a 30-29 career coaching record, including a 26-14 mark in his last four seasons. He coached 49 USA South All-Conference, 22 VaSID All-State, 13 D3football.com National Player of the Week, 11 Roanoke Times All-State, six CoSIDA Academic All-District and three VaSID Academic All-State selections. Adams also coached two D3football.com All-Americans and one USA South Defensive Rookie of the Year.

“I am excited to welcome Cleive Adams back to Ferrum as our new head football coach,” said Sutyak. “It was critical that we identified someone who is of high character, that can positively mentor our current and future football student-athletes and who not only knows Ferrum, but embraces who we are and can effectively recruit and retain high level students and football players to the college. Cleive fits those traits and has a proven record of success in his tenure as the head coach at Averett. We are excited that he will be leading the Black Hats into the future and work toward our ultimate goal of competing for the ODAC championship.”

Prior to his stint at Averett, Adams served two stints as an assistant coach at Ferrum, from 2003 to 2004 and again from 2007 to 2013. During his second stint, Adams served as the Panthers’ defensive coordinator. He was an assistant football coach and special teams coordinator at fellow Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) member Washington and Lee University from 2005 to 2006.

“It’s an absolute honor to be named Head Football Coach at Ferrum,” said Adams. “To be a part of a program with such a rich tradition represents an awesome opportunity. I’m looking forward to a new beginning with my alma mater and a productive partnership with the Ferrum Athletics department and campus community.”

A native of Radford, Virginia, Adams played football at Ferrum under legendary Coach Hank Norton in 1988 and 1989. Both seasons culminated with the Panthers making appearances in the NCAA Div. III national semifinals.

After stepping away from school to start a family, he returned to Ferrum in the late 1990s to resume work on his degree, eventually earning a Bachelor of Science from Ferrum in Recreation and Leisure with a minor in Psychology in 2002. In 2019, Adams was named to the Ferrum College Alumni Sports Hall of Fame.

Adams becomes Ferrum’s eighth head football coach in the 65-year history of the program. He succeeds Rob Grande, who stepped down earlier this month to accept a position with the Iowa State University football coaching staff.

Ferrum Football Coaches

1955-56: Sam Webb (2 seasons)

1957-58: Carson Barnes (2)

1959: Lewis Lane (1)

1960-93: Hank Norton (34)

1994-2010: Dave Davis (17)

2011-15: David Harper (5)

2016-19: Rob Grande (4)

2020-: Cleive Adams

Adams takes over a program that finished 4-6 last season, including 3-5 in the ODAC. The Panthers are expected to graduate 19 players in May, with over 80 players eligible to return for the 2020 season.