Shafer succeeds Doug Marrone, who was named coach of the Buffalo Bills on Monday after four seasons at Syracuse. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because there has not been an official announcement from the university.
With national signing day looming, the school wanted to act quickly to find a replacement.
Dr. Daryl Gross, director of athletics, hinted in a radio interview Monday that the choice would come from within the staff.
Though the university had not made an announcement, Shafer's Wikipedia page already was updated on Monday night to say he was the coach, and his son and former players Rob Long and Antwon Bailey congratulated him on Twitter.
Shafer, a 1990 graduate of Baldwin Wallace University, was one of Marrone's first hires when he arrived in 2009 and has built the Orange defense into a top unit. Though he's never been a head coach, Shafer expressed interest in taking that next step and was a candidate for the Western Michigan job that went to P.J. Fleck last month.
CBS Sports first reported Shafer's hiring on Monday.
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