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About Us

Coach Baxter, Founder and Creator of Academic Gameplan and his wife, Jill, Sports Law Attorney and CEO of Academic Gameplan, have 2 daughters, Kelly and McKenzie. John's father-in-law Ron McBride is the former Head Football Coach at the University of Utah and Weber State University.  

John was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Born June 28, 1963, a 1981 Graduate of Loyola Academy. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Loras College in 1985 and then his master’s degree in Higher Education from Iowa State in 1987. A career college football coach, Coach Baxter has established a nationally prominent reputation as both a teacher and coach.

He was named the 2011 National Special Teams Coordinator of the Year while at USC and is known for developing some of the most prolific special teams units in the game of college football. His players have been consistently lauded for their academic and athletic achievements. The players that he has had the opportunity to mentor reads like a directory of super achievers.

Along with his coaching duties Coach Baxter has authored and copyrighted the highly-successful and nationally-acclaimed program, “The Academic Gameplan©.” and written "I Hate School the Book" His innovative and comprehensive life-skills program teaches students the rules, fundamentals, techniques to succeed in the classroom. “Academic Gameplan©,” is used in homes and at schools throughout the country. The program he created was the key ingredient for the phenomenal academic success of the Fresno State football program. Going from the nations worst graduation rate in 1996, Baxter’s tenure produced 141 Academic All-WAC players and an NCAA APR score nearly 20 percentage points higher than the national average.

He is a featured speaker and community servant and was selected as the Clovis, California Citizen of the Year in 2006.

Coaching Highlights

  • 2016-present Special Teams Coordinator University of Southern California
  • 2015-Special Teams Coordinator University of Michigan
  • 2010 – Associate Head Football Coach, Special Teams Coordinator & Tight End Coach @ University of Southern California
  • 1997 – 2009 Associate Head Football Coach, Special Teams Coordinator & Tight End Coach @ California State University-Fresno
  • 1994 – 1996 Special Teams Coordinator & Tight End Coach @ Tulane University
  • 1992 – 1993 Special Teams Coordinator & Running Back Coach @ The University of Maryland
  • 1990 – 1991 Special Teams Coordinator & Tight End Coach @ University of Arizona
  • 1989 – Special Teams Coordinator & Linebacker Coach @ University of Maine
  • 1988 – Graduate Assistant Coach @ University of Arizona
  • 1986 – 1987 – Graduate Assistant Coach @ Iowa State University
  • 1981 – 1985 – Undergraduate Assistant Coach Loras College