Northwestern State has hired former Nicholls State head coach Jay Thomas as its new head football coach.

Thomas, 52, will be introduced at a news conference Friday afternoon.

Most recently, Thomas served as Northwestern State's defensive line coach and assistant head coach in 2010 and 2011 before becoming the defensive coordinator and assistant head coach at Division II Missouri Southern this past year.

He replaces Bradley Dale Peveto, whose contract was not renewed last month after he compiled a 14-30 record in four losing seasons, including 4-7 this past season.

"This certainly has been a lengthier search process than most, myself included, had anticipated and in the end, there is a high confidence level in handing the reigns of Demon football to somebody in Jay Thomas with whom I have an extremely high comfort level," athletic director Greg Burke said.

"Through and through, he is a football coach who has deep roots in Louisiana. I really enjoyed building a relationship with Jay when he was an NSU assistant coach and look forward to now working side-by-side with him as our head coach.

"First and foremost, Jay will sustain the very positive pieces that are in place as it relates to student-athlete welfare. He will care about the players but at the same time, will ensure a level of discipline that will have positive ramifications both on and off the field. Our players are going to enjoying playing for him."

Thomas spent 14 seasons at Nicholls, the last five (2004-2009) as head coach. Three of those teams were set back by hurricanes, but Thomas posted a 27-35 record and led Nicholls to its only Southland Conference championship (2005 co-championship) as well as wins over four nationally ranked teams and FBS member Rice.

Over his five seasons as head coach, the Nicholls team's NCAA Academic Progress Rate improved from 746 to 930.