Audino is staying at Union

John Audino’s mind wandered toward Columbia University, but his heart remained at Union College.
John Audino
John Audino

John Audino’s mind wandered toward Columbia University, but his heart remained at Union College.

Audino announced Tuesday that he is staying on as the head football coach for the Dutchmen after considering opportunities as an assistant coach at both Columbia and Holy Cross.

“This is great news for me,” he said. “I’m thrilled to death. I obviously made the right dec­ision for me and the family. I am definitely coming back.”

Audino is 16th among active NCAA Division III coaches in career victories with a record of 153-69, including five trips to the NCAA Division III playoffs, but his teams struggled over the last two seasons, going 3-7 in 2013 and 2-8 last year. Those two campaigns, along with another injury-plagued season in 2010, when the Dutchmen were only 2-7, are the only three times Union has posted a non-winning season in Audino’s 23 years at the helm.

“I’ve been here for 23 years, and I love it here,” said Audino. “I was born and raised here. My wife [Tina] was born here, and my two daughters went to school at Union. It’s rare when a college football coach gets to work in his hometown, or close to it.”

Audino was born in Alb­any and went to Vincentian Institute. Although he played football as an undergraduate for Notre Dame, he later returned to the area, earning his master’s degree and serving as an assistant under former UAlb­any head coach Bob Ford. Audino was an assistant coach at the University of Pennsyl­vania, Columbia and Kentucky. He was also the head coach at Kean College in New Jersey.

He struck up a strong friendship with former Penn head coach and newly named Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli when both were assistants at UAlbany. Audino later served as Bagnoli’s offensive coord­inator/quarterback-receiver coach at Union from 1983 through 1986. During that time, Union was a national power, going to the NCAA tournament three times and reaching the national championship game, the Stagg Bowl, in 1983.

“Al and I have been good friends from as far back as 1976, and our families and kids are also good friends,” Audino explained. “I thought it over, about going to work for Al at Columbia. He offered me the assistant head coach/quarterback job, but in the end, I want to be here. My heart is here. I want the opportunity to work with our kids. I don’t want to leave them the way we are right now. I’m going to work real hard to turn us around.”

Audino also didn’t want to give up his role as head coach after all these years.

“I definitely want to be the head coach, and there are other reasons I decided to stay. I want to get the program going in the right direction. I want to work with our players, coaches and administration to get us back to our winning ways. I have a lot of energy, enthusiasm and positive emotion for our players.”

Audino has coached 106 Liberty League All-Academic student-athletes and also mentored Gagliardi Trophy finalists Tom Arcidiacono and Noah Joseph as candidates for the national player of the year.

Audino admitted that he was also offered a position as the offensive coordinator at Holy Cross, but he said he turned it down for the same reasons he decided not to join Bagnoli at Columbia.

“It’s not the right time for me to explore those kinds of options,” he said. “Sure, it’s a challenging situation here. The expectations are the same every year. It’s frustrating when you don’t meet those expectations. But we have great student-athletes and coaches here. If I thought it was a coaching issue, I would have done something about it. This place has some outstanding young men in our program. This is where my heart is.”

Categories: College Sports

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