Categories: College Sports
Union College announced on Thursday afternoon that football head coach John Audino has retired after 24 seasons, a month after he had said he “would love to come back.”
Neither the college nor Audino would answer questions on whether the “retirement” was in fact Audino being pushed out.
The announcement appeared to be an about-face from Audino’s stated desire to stay in the wake of an 0-10 2015 season that ended with a home loss to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Nov. 14.
“Obviously, I’ve been here for 24 years, and I love this place,” he said that day. “I was born and raised here. I would love to come back and try to change things around. . . . I think my record over my career speaks for itself.”
Instead, Audino, who, like all Division III coaches at the school, is hired on a year-to-year basis, has “retired” and will “pursue other coaching opportunities,” according to a one-page press release emailed to media at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Reached by phone, Audino recited a quote in the release, but otherwise refused to comment on his departure from the school.
“I would like to thank the hundreds of dedicated young men that I have had the privilege to forge mutually beneficial relationships on and off the field as well as my family, the alumni, my staff, the fans, the media, and the Union College community who have supported our program throughout the years,” the statement read.
Athletic director Jim McLaughlin issued his own statement in the release, and, through assistant athletics director (sports information) Eric McDowell, refused to comment further.
“The College greatly appreciates John’s services and the impact he has had on the many students that came through the program and we wish him the best in the future,” McLaughlin’s statement read.
Union said it will conduct a national search for Audino’s successor.
The uncertainty over Audino’s fate has hung over the program for a month. The athletic director and coach met on the Monday after the season concluded, but afterward McLaughlin declined to say if Audino would be the coach for the coming season, and the coach declined comment.
Audino leaves Union with the most wins in program history. His record was 152-89 and included five appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament and six Eastern College Athletic Conference Northwest championships.
The program had fallen on hard times in recent years, though, winning just 19 games in the last six seasons, and none in 2015, when the Dutchmen capped an 0-10 season with a 23-10 loss to RPI in the annual Dutchman Shoes game.
After the game, Audino said, “This place is like my family. Whatever happens at this point, I haven’t lost my edge. I still love being here and coaching here. I’m the kind of guy who feels if I’m not ready to coach, I’ll be the first one to admit it. I’ll know when I don’t want to get up and go to work. I still get up and can’t wait to go to work every day here.”
From 1992-2009, Audino’s Dutchmen did not register a losing season.
But the 2010s have not been prosperous: Union has had losing records four of the past six seasons, and from 2010-15 are a combined 19-40. The Dutchmen have not made it to the NCAA tournament since 2006, when Audino and his staff won their second Liberty League Championship and second coaching staff of the year award.
The Dutchmen’s .322 winning percentage over the last six seasons is well below Audino’s overall percentage of .631.
Audino served as the head coach of the Dutchmen since the 1992 season. His overall head coaching record, including two seasons at Kean College, is 160-101.
Over the past 10 seasons, Union produced 146 Liberty League all-stars. In 2012, Noah Joseph was selected as a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy for the NCAA Division III Player of the Year, the fourth player coached by Audino to become a Gagliardi Trophy finalist.
John Peters (2009), Tom Arcidiacono (2005) and Marco Lainez (1992) were also finalists in their senior seasons. Twelve of 21 first-team All-American honors that have been bestowed to a Union football player were coached by Audino.
A 1971 graduate of Vincentian Institute in Albany, Audino was the offensive coordinator for three seasons at Union (1983-85) and was also the baseball head coach.
He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975, where he was a running back, and completed his master’s at the University at Albany.
While at Albany, Audino worked under head coach Bob Ford as the special team’s coordinator. Audino was the head coach at Kean College in Union, New Jersey, prior to returning to the Capital Region as Union’s head coach.
He served for four seasons (1986-89) as wide receiver and quarterback coach for the University of Pennsylvania under former Union head coach Al Bagnoli. Before Penn, Audino served as an assistant at Kentucky (1982) and Columbia (1977-81).