RICHMOND, Ky.  — Eastern Kentucky athletic director Matt Roan has named Garry McPeek as acting head football coach, effectively immediately, while Walt Wells recovers from a cardiac episode on Sunday. 

What You Need To Know

  • EKU head football coach Walt Wells suffered a cardiac event on Sunday, Aug. 28

  • He is hospitalized in stable condition

  • EKU football's chief of staff, Garry McPeek will serve as interim head coach

  • EKU plays at Eastern Michigan Friday, Sept. 2

Wells is hospitalized in stable condition at UK Hospital in Lexington. McPeek came to EKU in February 2021 and was promoted to chief of staff in the offseason after serving last season as director of football operations. Roan said McPeek is dedicated to Wells’ team-first philosophy and that his appointment allows the team to move forward in the most efficient and least disruptive manner possible. 

Eastern Kentucky University football chief of staff Garry McPeek. McPeek will serve as interim head coach after head coach Walt Wells suffered a cardiac event on Aug. 28, 2022 (

The FCS-level Colonels open the season on Friday night at Eastern Michigan.

“These are not the circumstances in which we hoped to be operating within,” Roan said in a release. “(Coach McPeek) will do an outstanding job of leading and supporting a terrific staff of coordinators, assistant coaches, and support personnel. Our staff and I look forward to assisting him throughout this process for the benefit of the young men who make up our team.”

McPeek is a 30-year coaching veteran who had previously worked at Valdosta High School in Georgia in 2020. He also launched the athletic program at Lexington’s Frederick Douglass High School and twice coached the Kentucky Horsemen Arena Football League team.

Head coach Wells suffered a cardiac episode at work Sunday morning.

Roan said in a statement Sunday night that Wells was in intensive care at UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital in Lexington. The AD added that he and EKU President David T. McFaddin spent the afternoon and evening with Wells' wife, Jennifer, and several of the coach's close friends and family.

“On behalf of the Wells family, we are very thankful for the amazing medical professionals who have been involved,” Roan said in the statement. "We ask for everyone to continue lifting up Coach Wells and his family during this time. We join everyone in hoping for a full recovery for Coach Wells.”

Wells is 10-10 after two seasons at the FCS-level school, including 7-4 last year. 

The episode comes days after former Colonels defensive back Marquae Kirkendoll was arrested on federal charges of allegedly robbing a postal carrier in New Mexico in January. The program suspended Kirkendoll after being told of his arrest Wednesday and as of Friday he was no longer enrolled at the school.