Tim Chavous
Tim Chavous at Saint Augustine's University. “I’ve gone from the football field to the academic classroom,” he said of his career switch to helping students as an academic adviser. “I like being part of their time and journey in life. I love building relationships with them and helping them with their future career.” (Courtesy of Tim Chavous)

Starting over: Tim Chavous’ transition from football coach to academic adviser

His new role at VCU has allowed him to carry his mentorship skills from the field to the classroom.

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Editor’s note: “Starting over” is a VCU News series about Virginia Commonwealth University students, graduates, faculty and staff who have boldly chosen to change something in their lives — whether a new profession, area of study or something else entirely.

Tim Chavous always helped his football players with their academics during his 20-year college football coaching career. That experience paved the way for an easy transition to working as a student success adviser in VCU’s School of Social Work.

“I wanted to retire from coaching and be involved in academics full time. I’ve gone from the football field to the academic classroom,” he said. 

After reaching the highest levels in coaching by serving as a head coach for five years at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina, he found it easy to leave his football career, he said. “I was at the top of the chain. I fulfilled every dream I had coming out of college.”

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Chavous graduated from Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in recreation. He received his master’s degree in education from Virginia State University in 2012.

He played college football at Bethune-Cookman as both a running back and linebacker until he suffered an injury his senior year. During the course of his college football career, he also suffered six concussions. 

“I couldn’t play football anymore so I wanted to become a college football coach,” he said. 

Chavous’ first position was interning as a coach at Virginia State University. Next he served as assistant coach at St. Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, Virginia, from 2004 to 2011 before becoming an assistant coach and later head coach at Saint Augustine’s from 2012 to 2019. 

Chavous was recognized for many achievements during his coaching career, including coaching five players who would go on to play in the NFL, and attending the NCAA and NFL Coaches Academy for two years, which provides full-time college football coaches at NCAA member schools an educational opportunity to build connections and develop leadership acumen. 

“I love football, and I love coaching the game,” he said. 

Chavous is now concentrating on his second sports love — golf. He’s been golfing since he was 13 and is now certified as a golf instructor, teaching at Henrico Police Athletic League in a partnership with First Tee of Greater Richmond.

Even though he’s off the football field now, Chavous is still able to use his coaching talent to help guide students through college to their future goals. 

“I like being part of their time and journey in life,” he said. “I love building relationships with them and helping them with their future career.”

Advising is not just about academics, he said. 

“It’s also about mentorship and getting to know students and their personal values,” he said. 

His tip for anyone thinking of starting over? “I would say it’s never too late to pursue your dream or complete your life goals; some individuals go back to school in their 40s and 50s just because the timing wasn’t right at the time in their life,” he said. “There is always room to start your life over in our world today [and there are] so many more opportunities than there were yesterday. Go for it.”