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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Frank Cignetti Announces Retirement as Head Football Coach at IUP

Frank Cignetti Announces Retirement as Head Football Coach at IUP

Distribution Date: Nov. 2, 2005                                                  
Release Date: Immediate

     Indiana University of Pennsylvania head football coach Frank Cignetti has announced his intention to retire from the position at the conclusion of the 2005 football season. He will be coaching his final game on Saturday when IUP hosts California at Miller Stadium.
     Cignetti has served as IUP's head football coach since 1986 and was director of intercollegiate athletics from 1982 through May 1998.
     "Frank is a true champion, in every sense of the word," said IUP President Dr. Tony Atwater. "His commitment to his scholar-athletes has been extraordinary. He has worked hard to instill in each and every student in which he has had contact over the years a sense of integrity and sportsmanship in order to position them as successful scholars and citizens of the university and the community. "Frank has developed a program for which IUP can be most proud, and has served our university with dedication and passion. He will be missed," Dr. Atwater said.
     Cignetti is one of the most successful head coaches in the nation with a lifetime winning percentage of .723 (counting four years at the helm of the West Virginia University program).
     Cignetti enters the final game of his 20th season at IUP with an IUP record of 182-49-1 and a career mark of 199-76-1, including a 17-27 slate while with the Mountaineers. His 199 victories are third most among current Division II coaches.
     If IUP is victorious on Saturday against California, Cignetti will achieve his 200th career victory. He has guided IUP to 28 postseason games, more than any coach in Division II history. Cignetti owns a 15-13 playoff record, making him the coach with the second most wins in Division II postseason history.
     Under Cignetti's direction, IUP has qualified for postseason play 13 times in the past 18 years (1987-91, 1993-94, 1996 and 1998-02). IUP reached the national semifinals five times in a six-year span beginning in 1989 (1989-91, 1993-94) and advanced that far again in 1999.
     IUP played for the national championship in 1990 and 1993. The second of those appearances resulted in a dramatic last second loss to North Alabama by a score of 41-34. That contest, played on North Alabama's home field in Florence, was selected the second best game in Division II history as part of the 25th anniversary celebration in 1997.
     IUP was ranked in the final Division II poll every season from 1986-96, including a number one spot in the final poll in 1991. IUP also owns 10 Lambert/Meadowlands Cups, symbolic of the top team in the East, and 11 ECAC Division II Team of the Year plaques, the first presented in 1987.
     Under Cignetti's leadership, IUP has won 14 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division titles and two statewide PSAC crowns before the league's "State Game" between its two division champs was discontinued in 1988.
     As a result of these extraordinary achievements, Cignetti's career has resulted in honors that few achieve either in number or significance. His honors include: ·         Kodak Coach of the Year in 1993, chosen  by a vote of the American Football Coaches Association membership; ·         Three College Division I Region I awards (1990, 1991, 1993); ·         Chevrolet NCAA Division II National Coach of the Year (1991); ·         Five PSAC Western Division Coach of the Year awards (1986, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1994); ·         IUP Athletic Hall of Fame (inducted in the program's 1996 inaugural year); ·         Armstrong County Athletic Hall of Fame; ·         Indiana County Athletic Hall of Fame; ·         Western Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame.
     Cignetti, who holds a bachelor's and master's degree from IUP, has been instrumental in building and revitalizing programs to benefit IUP's student-athletes. Cignetti started the annual IUP Business Scholarship Fund that has approached a quarter-million dollars in a single campaign. He revitalized the IUP Athletic Club, capturing renewed interest under the banner of the Crimson Club, introduced a Super Package for special corporate friends and greatly enhanced the university's roster of endowed scholarships for athletics.
     Cignetti has also been an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
     "First, I would like to thank everyone who has supported the IUP football program, its players and coaches," Cignetti said. "Without the support of the presidents, administration, faculty, staff, community, alumni and friends, we couldn't have built this program into the success it has been over the years.
     "Because of this loyal support, I have been able to surround myself with the finest coaches and student-athletes possible," Cignetti continued. "The success that we have enjoyed is a direct reflection of the quality coaches and players who I have been lucky enough to work with during my time at IUP.
     "It has been an honor and privilege to be the head football coach at IUP, and I am thankful for the opportunity to serve a university that I hold dear. This is truly a special place for me and my family," Cignetti said.
     "I will miss the day-to-day relationships I have developed with the coaches and players. Those relationships are what I will cherish the most after my time as football coach at IUP is over," he said.
     While a student-athlete at IUP, Cignetti was an NAIA All-America end in football and played basketball as part of the 1957-58 IUP team that won the NAIA (statewide) District 30 championship and was the first to advance to a national tournament.
     Cignetti began his career as a biology teacher and assistant coach in 1960 at Leechburg High School, next door to his Kiski Valley hometown of Apollo. He assumed the head coaching reins at Leechburg in 1962 and posted a four-year record of 32-9. His 1965 team went 10-0 and won the WPIAL Class A championship.
     That success caught the eye of Division I Pittsburgh and head coach Dave Hart, who invited him to come aboard as offensive backfield coach. Three years at Pittsburgh (1966-68) were followed by one at Princeton (1969) in the same capacity. He then moved on to West Virginia University as offensive coordinator and served in that position for six years (1970-75).
     When WVU head coach Bobby Bowden left to take over the Florida State program in 1976, Cignetti was tabbed as his replacement. He stepped down as head coach following the 1979 season to become an administrative assistant to the athletic director.
     In that role, he was instrumental in upgrading West Virginia's athletic facilities, and he led the stadium task force that coordinated the construction of and transition into the Mountaineers' state-of-the-art athletic facility. A national search for the football head coach position will begin immediately.
     IUP is a member of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education.

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