Tim Lester
Biographical details
Born (1977-02-08) February 8, 1977 (age 45)
Wheaton, Illinois
Playing career
1996–1999Western Michigan
2001Chicago Enforcers
2001Nashville Kats
2001Carolina Cobras
2002Memphis Xplorers
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
2000Wheaton Warrenville South HS (IL) (OC)
2001Saint Benedict at Auburndale (TN) (OC)
2002–2003Elmhurst (OC)
2004Saint Joseph's (IN)
2005–2006Western Michigan (QB)
2007North Central (AHC/DC)
2013–2014Syracuse (QB/RC)
2014–2015Syracuse (OC/QB)
2016Purdue (QB)
2017–2022Western Michigan
Head coaching record
Tournaments1–1 (NCAA D-III playoffs)
Accomplishments and honors
MAC Co-Freshman of the Year (1996)
IFA Coach of the Year (2004)
CCIW Coach of the Year (2012)

Timothy Frederick Lester (born February 8, 1977) is an American football coach. He most recently was the head football coach at Western Michigan University, a position he has held since the 2017 season. Lester played quarterback at Western Michigan for coaches Al Molde and Gary Darnell from 1996 to 1999 and professionally for the Chicago Enforcers of the XFL in 2001. He then served as the head football coach at Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Indiana in 2004 and at Elmhurst College from 2008 to 2012.

Early life

Lester attended Wheaton Warrenville South High School in Wheaton, Illinois.[1] As a senior, Lester threw for 1,732 yards and 17 touchdowns (TDs) with two interceptions before succumbing to a knee injury in the playoffs. He was subsequently named second-team all-state by the Chicago Tribune.[2] In two years as a starting quarterback, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,632 yards and 38 TDs with six interceptions. Prior to his injury, Lester had been considered a blue chip prospect and planned on committing to Florida and head coach Steve Spurrier.[3][4]

College career

Lester threw for 11,299 passing yards with 87 TDs during his career, setting 17 school records after being recruited to WMU and winning MAC Freshman of the Year under head coach Al Molde and subsequently Gary Darnell and offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. Lester finished his career ranked fourth all time in NCAA Division I for passing yards and sixth in touchdowns.

Following his senior season, Lester participated in the 1999 Blue-Gray Classic.[5]

In 2011, Lester was named to the Western Michigan University Athletic Hall of Fame.[6]

Professional career

Although Lester was scouted by several professional teams in college, he went undrafted in the 2000 NFL Draft.

Lester was drafted by the Chicago Enforcers in the sixth round of the 2001 XFL Draft.[7] He played in four games, completing 40 of 76 passes for 554 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions, and losing all four games as started; he was benched and eventually released midseason.

Lester also spent time in the Arena Football League in 2001 with the Nashville Kats[8] and Carolina Cobras; and the Arena Football League 2 in 2002 with the Memphis Xplorers.[9]

Coaching career

Immediately following his playing career at WMU, Lester returned to his alma mater Wheaton Warrenville South high school as a math teacher. He also served as offensive coordinator for the varsity football team for one season. He continued to hold that job while playing for the XFL, effectively playing as a semi-professional.

Lester then spent one season as the head coach of NCAA Division II Saint Joseph's College in 2004. Following the season he was named the 2004 Independent Football Alliance (IFA) Coach of the Year.

Lester returned to WMU to serve as quarterbacks coach from 2005 to 2006. The move reunited him with new Broncos head coach Bill Cubit. The two had previous success with Lester as quarterback and Cubit as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1997 to 1999. Lester was instrumental in recruiting quarterback Tim Hiller, an All-MAC performer that surpassed several of Lester's previous school passing records. Lester voluntarily left his position following the 2006 season in order to find employment closer to his family in the Chicago area.[10] He found that at NCAA Division III North Central College, where he served as defensive coordinator for the 2007 season.

In 2008, Lester was named the head coach of the Division III Elmhurst College Bluejays. In 2012 Lester was named the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) Coach of the Year after leading the Bluejays to their first NCAA Playoff appearance in school history. The conference championship was the first for the football program since 1980. The 2012, the Bluejays featured running back Scottie Williams, the Gagliardi Trophy award winner as the most outstanding player in Division III.

In 2013, Lester resigned from Elmhurst to accept an offer to be the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Syracuse.[11] The move reunited him with Orange head coach Scott Shafer and offensive coordinator George McDonald, all of whom had previously served on the same Western Michigan staff from 2005 to 2006. On October 6, 2014, McDonald was demoted from offensive coordinator to wide receivers coach by Shafer. Lester was promoted from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator and play caller.[12]

On December 28, 2015, Purdue hired Lester to become its quarterbacks coach.[13] Lester coached David Blough,[14] and Purdue averaged 294.9 passing yards a game, ranking 21st in the country.

On January 13, 2017, Lester was hired as head coach at Western Michigan.[15] Lester's base contract pays him $800,000 per year.[16] Western Michigan fired Lester following the 2022 season, in which the team finished 5–7. In six seasons, Lester's teams compiled a 37–32 record.[17]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Saint Joseph's Pumas (NCAA Division II independent) (2004)
2004 Saint Joseph's 7–4
Saint Joseph's: 7–4[18]
Elmhurst Bluejays (College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin) (2008–2012)
2008 Elmhurst 7–3 4–3 4th
2009 Elmhurst 4–6 1–6 7th
2010 Elmhurst 6–4 3–4 T–5th
2011 Elmhurst 6–4 4–3 4th
2012 Elmhurst 0–2 (10 wins vacated)[a] 0–1 T–1st L NCAA Division III Quarterfinal
Elmhurst: 23–19[20] 12–17
Western Michigan Broncos (Mid-American Conference) (2017–present)
2017 Western Michigan 6–6 4–4 4th (West)
2018 Western Michigan 7–6 5–3 T–2nd (West) L Famous Idaho Potato
2019 Western Michigan 7–6 5–3 2nd (West) L First Responder
2020 Western Michigan 4–2 4–2 T–2nd (West)
2021 Western Michigan 8–5 4–4 T–4th (West) W Quick Lane
2022 Western Michigan 5–7 4–4 3rd (West)
Western Michigan: 37–32 26–20
Total: 67–55
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth
  1. ^ In 2017 the NCAA forced Elmhurst to vacate 10 wins (6 conference) from the 2012 season because of financial aid violations.[19]


  1. ^ "Tim Lester". www.cuse.com. Syracuse University. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  2. ^ Bob Sakamoto (November 24, 1994). "All-stars Fill All-state Teams". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  3. ^ "How Syracuse OC Tim Lester nearly played QB for Florida". July 10, 2015.
  4. ^ "Western Michigan coach Tim Lester learned major recruiting tip from unlikely source". February 2, 2017.
  5. ^ "WT defender Larrimore chosen for Blue-Gray Game". www.amarillo.com. Amarillo Globe-News. December 17, 1999. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  6. ^ Jared E. Smith (January 15, 2013). "Syracuse Football: Tim Lester To Be Named New QB Coach, Per Report". Nunesmagician.com. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  7. ^ Scott Merkin (February 2, 2001). "Will Public Buy Xfl? Players Are Trying To". www.chicagotribune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  8. ^ Paul Kuharsky (April 27, 2001). "Kats look to stretch streak vs. Florida to seven in a row". The Tennessean. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "Tim Lester Leads Xplorers Into Training Camp". www.oursportscentral.com. OurSports Central. March 18, 2002. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  10. ^ Graham, Couch (October 18, 2011). "There's still plenty of WMU in (and on) former Broncos star QB Tim Lester". mlive.com. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  11. ^ Nolan Weidner (January 18, 2013). "Tim Lester added to Syracuse football staff as quarterbacks coach". syracuse.com. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  12. ^ Stephen Bailey (October 8, 2014). "George McDonald wishes that he could hate longtime friend, replacement Tim Lester". www.syracuse.com. Syracuse Media Group. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  13. ^ Chris Carlson (December 28, 2015). "Former Syracuse offensive coordinator Tim Lester lands at Purdue as QB coach". www.syracuse.com. Syracuse Media Group. Retrieved December 29, 2015.
  14. ^ Nathan Baird (September 22, 2016). "Purdue QB David Blough learning from Tim Lester". www.jconline.com. Lafayette Journal & Courier. Retrieved January 10, 2017.
  15. ^ "Western Michigan hires Tim Lester as football coach". Detroit Free Press. January 13, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
  16. ^ Paul, Tony (January 14, 2017). "'Row the Boat' probably won't float in new WMU era". Detroit News. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  17. ^ Vannini, Chris (November 28, 2022). "WMU fires HC Lester after 6 seasons". The Athletic. Retrieved November 28, 2022.
  18. ^ "Saint Joseph's College Football Guide" (PDF). Saint Joseph's College. Retrieved September 10, 2013.
  19. ^ Nothaft, Patrick (November 14, 2017). "NCAA finds major infractions at WMU football coach Tim Lester's former school". Mlive.com. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  20. ^ "Elmhurst College Football All-Time Coaching Records" (PDF). Elmhurst College. Retrieved December 21, 2017.