Stiegelmeier arrested for DUI


Editor's note: This article has been edited to include additional information from court documents.

BROOKINGS – South Dakota State University football coach John Stiegelmeier was arrested for DUI last month, the coach said Wednesday. Court documents say he was arrested Jan. 27.

The coach said he admits to driving under the influence and was stopped while driving from home about 11:30 p.m., going out to get food.

Stiegelmeier said he hadn’t eaten all day, was at home doing taxes and had some wine before he went out without thinking about how much he had to drink.

The arrest has not affected his employment status, and both his players and employers are aware of the arrest, he said.

He has a court appearance scheduled for March 6.

Court documents allege that a Brookings patrol officer came upon Stiegelmeier's vehicle on Jan. 27, stuck in a ditch at the intersection of Eighth Street South and Regency Court. The officer reported Stiegelmeier "was unsteady on his feet and had a hard time maintaining his balance" when exiting his vehicle.

The officer said she smelled alcohol on Stiegelmeier and that he admitted to drinking "Joose," a malt beverage.

Stiegelmeier offered the following written statement to the Register on Wednesday evening.

“First and foremost, I made a terrible mistake. The decision I made is not who I have been, who I am or who I will be moving forward.

“I apologize to my family, President Dunn, Athletic Director Sell, my entire staff, and the entire SDSU football family present and past. I also want to apologize to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization that has impacted me and I have attempted to serve when called upon. 

“I obviously can’t control individuals’ judgements, but the poor decision I made reflects only on me and not our staff or football team. 

“I know through my faith, that I am forgiven. I will work as hard as ever, to regain the trust and belief I may have lost.”

SDSU Athletic Director Justin Sell offered a statement Wednesday as well.

“This certainly is an incident that does not reflect the values of our program and is out of character for Coach Stiegelmeier,” Sell said. “He has led our football program with integrity and class throughout his career, and I know he will use this incident as a teachable moment for the numerous young men he has mentored. I am fully behind him as he goes through this difficult time.”

In a statement to the Argus Leader Thursday, South Dakota State President Barry Dunn said Stiegelmeier contacted him shortly after the arrest.

“I expressed my disappointment during that meeting and John takes full responsibility for his actions," Dunn told the Argus Leader. "He understands the magnitude of what happened, the potential impact it could have had and the disappointment this brings to himself and the university as a leader of young people."

“Coach Stiegelmeier has been a valued member of the university and community for many years and we welcome his continued service as our head football coach. He will use this experience to educate others and inspire many more young men in his role as head coach about making the right decisions in life,” Dunn added.

Stiegelmeier, the winningest football coach in South Dakota State history, has built the Jackrabbit program into a yearly contender within the Missouri Valley Football Conference and the Football Championship Subdivision, according to

Overall, he has led the Jackrabbits to a 148-97 record in 21 seasons, the website reports. With Stiegelmeier at the helm, SDSU has reached the FCS playoffs seven times (2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) and is one of only four FCS programs to reach the postseason each of the past five seasons. The Jackrabbits won playoff contests in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017 and have finished in the top 25 of both major FCS polls in nine of the last 12 seasons.

Stiegelmeier passed Ralph Ginn (113-89-9 record from 1947-68) atop the Jackrabbit career victories list on Sept. 20, 2014, when the Jackrabbits defeated Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 41-3, at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. The coach also was presented with the Ralph Ginn Award for Coaching Excellence, which is presented annually to an SDSU alumnus, by his alma mater during the 2014 season, according to the SDSU Athletics website.

Aside from coaching, Stiegelmeier is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, serving on the state board of directors and as the organization’s SDSU faculty representative. He was presented with the organization’s Grant Teaff Award in 2016.

Contact Jill Fier at