Hutchinson High School graduate and former professional football player Cory Sauter announced Nov. 16 that he has stepped down as head coach at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, effective immediately.

Sauter graduated from HHS in 1992 and went on to the University of Minnesota, where he played quarterback and was a three-year letter winner. After college, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Arizona Cardinals in 1998. He went on to play professional football for the Detroit Lions, Barcelona Dragons, Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears before finishing up his career with the Colts again in 2003. During that time he appeared in one game in 2002 for the Bears, rushing for eight yards and completing six of nine pass attempts for 59 yards.

When his playing days were over, he started his coaching career in 2006, which eventually led him to SMSU. In 2008 he was hired as the quarterbacks coach, and in 2009 he was also made the offensive coordinator. Finally, in 2010, Sauter was promoted to head coach.

During his 12 seasons as head coach of the Mustangs (the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID), Sauter accumulated a 45-77 overall record, including two winning seasons. In 2013 they finished 7-5 and made an appearance in the Mineral Water Bowl, the program’s first bowl game and just its third postseason play ever. Then in 2015 they finished 8-3, the program’s best single-season record in Division II play.

Sauter said his decision to step down was based on what he felt was the right choice for student-athletes and the program. It also came at the end of a 2-9 season this fall.

Following his announcement to step down at SMSU, Sauter told the Marshall Independent he wasn’t sure what was next for him, or whether he would continue coaching.

“I can either look at any potential coaching opportunities and find one where I can make an impact, or I get out of coaching and find something that fits my skill set,” he said. “Just from being a head coach, I’ve been exposed to so many different realms, but I haven’t put any thought into it yet. And it needs to be a family decision with my wife and two daughters. Things are still pretty new and fresh right now.”