|Allegheny athletics photo|
Allegheny head football coach Mark Matlak has announced his retirement, effective at the conclusion of the 2015 season.
A 1978 Allegheny graduate and 1989 inductee into the school's Hall of Fame, Matlak was hired in April 2002. He will retire as the longest-tenured head coach in the 123-year history of Allegheny football, having presided over 141 games. The Gators are 62-76 under his tenure and have won just one game since the end of the 2012 season.
"I have been coaching college football for 36 seasons," said Matlak, "and it has been a passion. All coaches live in a competitive and stressful world, working to assist student-athletes to be the best they can be in school and on the field. Fortunately, I am healthy, and I plan to step away from that world to enjoy some quality time with my wife and son."
The 62 wins are the second most in team history, while his teams finished at or above the .500 mark in 10 different seasons.
Matlak wasted little time in making an impact upon his return to his alma mater. In just his second year at the helm, he led the Gators back from an 0-3 start to end the season with seven straight wins. The team clinched the 2003 North Coast Athletic Conference championship, and advanced to the Division III NCAA playoffs, where they suffered a heartbreaking 20-19 loss to Montclair State. Following the season, he was named the NCAC's Coach of the Year.
Matlak coached 66 All-NCAC honorees during his tenure at Allegheny, including 27 First Team All-NCAC picks, as well as the first player in program history to be named the conference's Newcomer of the Year, linebacker Nick Murgo in 2014.
In addition to their success on the field, Matlak's teams also earned a number of laurels for their academic performance. He coached three of the five players in team history to be named CoSIDA Academic All-America: punter Aaron Polack (2003), tight end Rob Carlisle (2010), and linebacker Brad Burkley (2013). Carlisle went on to become just the fourth player in team history to win the prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, while 2015 graduate Jesse Battaglia was named a national semifinalist for the 2014 William V. Campbell Award, which recognizes the most outstanding scholar-athlete in college football.
In 2012, Matlak was on the sidelines for one of the more monumental victories in program history, as Allegheny joined exclusive company with its 13-0 shutout over Hiram in the season finale for its 500th all-time win.
Prior to arriving at Allegheny in 2002, Matlak served as defensive coordinator at New Hampshire for 13 seasons, while adding the title of associate head coach from 1999-2002. He began his coaching career at Allegheny in 1978 as an assistant under fellow Hall of Fame inductee Sam Timer for five years, while he also served as Allegheny's head baseball coach.
Matlak was a four-year starter for the Gators from 1974-77 during one of the most successful eras in program history, as the squad went a combined 25-8. A three-time All-Presidents' Athletic Conference honoree at running back, he ran for 2,382 yards and 28 touchdowns, and was named the 1977 PAC Offensive Player of the Year. Inducted into the Allegheny Hall of Fame in 1989, he was selected in 2014 to the PAC's 60th Anniversary All-Time Team, recognizing the top players in the league's long history.
"Mark is a great Alleghenian," said Allegheny president James H. Mullen. "As a player and as a coach, he has made a tremendous difference for his alma mater, and those who played for him are better persons for having done so."
The Gators have three games remaining on the 2015 schedule, and will play host to Hiram this Saturday, Oct. 31, beginning at 5 p.m. in what will be Matlak's final game on the Frank B. Fuhrer Field sidelines. Prior to the contest, the team's 11 seniors will be recognized for their playing careers. Matlak will also be honored in a special pregame ceremony with Mullen and athletic director Portia Hoeg.
"I have been privileged to meet many wonderful people along this path," Matlak said, "including student-athletes, parents, administrators, and alumni, and I have been fortunate to work with a bunch of quality coaches along the way. I would like to thank everyone for making my coaching journey a great one, and I thank Allegheny College for the opportunity to be the head coach at my alma mater."
A national search for Matlak's successor will begin immediately. Interested candidates are asked not to contact the Allegheny athletic department, but to follow the application protocol that will be spelled out when the job is posted on Nov. 2.