KEARNEY, Neb. — Before Josh Lynn arrived, Nebraska-Kearney’s football program was in a bad spot. The Lopers won just one game over two seasons. Over his five non-COVID seasons, Lynn tallied 33 wins and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Playoffs. Now, he’s departing to be the head coach at West Texas A&M.

Lynn says it wasn’t an easy decision to leave a team and community he loves.

“Oh, (it was) incredibly hard," Lynn said. "The team that we have, the town of Kearney, Nebraska, UNK, the administrators, everything… it was a really hard decision.”

His new home in Canyon, Texas is 250 miles from his hometown of Eunice, New Mexico and 100 miles from his college alma mater.

“It’s close to family," Lynn said. "West Texas put some a pretty good offer on the table along with some really nice resources. It’s just hard to turn down.”

Among the resources is the new Bain-Schaeffer Buffalo Stadium. The $38 million complex opened in 2019 and holds 8,500 fans.

Lynn says his courtship by the Buffaloes didn’t last long. There wasn’t even a visit to the West Texas campus.

“They pulled the trigger, then they wanted an answer within the span of days," Lynn said. "That’s what makes it hard. In the coaching world, it’s fast.”

Lynn thinks his future is bright, but says his time at UNK was special.

“I’m really proud and I’m really proud of these young men. They’ve worked hard, they’ve bought into what we’ve done. They’re going to get someone in here and there’s just going to continue to go because that’s the kind of young men they are,” Lynn said.

He says his family’s experience in Kearney was exclusively positive.

“I’m very humble and very, very grateful for the town of Kearney, the Loper backers, the Gridiron Club, my administration," Lynn said. "I’m just extremely grateful for all them for what they did and what they did for my family.”

Defensive Coordinator Levi Gallas and Special Teams Coordinator Jake Willrich will lead the Lopers until a new head coach is picked. Lynn says he wants to take as much of his staff with him as he can but encourages UNK to select one of his assistants as his successor.

Athletic Director Marc Bauer has launched a nationwide search. He says he wants the new coach in place by the end of the month.