In a long career as a football coach, Frank Cignetti ’60, M’65 became known as one of the best play callers because of his innovative ideas and ability to think ahead during the game. But of the thousands of calls Cignetti made in his long and storied coaching career, the one that gave him the most success wasn’t a pass or a run.
Frank Cignetti, shown on the football field in June, will be part of the Class of 2013 of the College Football Hall of Fame. Photo: Keith Boyer
It was a return—a return home.
Cignetti, who won 182 games as IUP’s football coach from 1986 to 2005, was chosen in May as a member of the Class of 2013 for the College Football Hall of Fame. He is to be inducted at a dinner in Atlanta in August.
“I have a lot of people at IUP to thank,” Cignetti said. “We had a great administration.”
Cignetti came back to his alma mater in 1982 as the director of athletics. Before that, he had been the head football coach at West Virginia University and had struggled to gain many victories on the field. But at IUP, he began building the athletics department into a national power, and that success carried over to the football field when he became the coach before the 1986 season.
In 20 seasons at the helm, the Indians never had a losing season, won 14 Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division titles, earned 13 NCAA Division II playoff berths, twice played in the national championship game, and became one of the most respected football teams in the country.
By the time he retired in 2005, Cignetti had won an astounding 78 percent of his games at IUP. His teams were especially dominant in the PSAC West, winning at a clip of 88 percent over the years against the likes of California, Clarion, Edinboro, and Slippery Rock.
So it’s easy to see why Cignetti’s decision in 1982 to return to IUP was the best call he ever made.
“The opportunity to come back to IUP was really what I needed,” he said. “It’s the smartest decision I could have made.”
Cignetti will become the third member of the IUP football family to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, joining former coach Chuck Klausing, inducted in 1998, and former standout player Jim Haslett ’91, enshrined in 2001.
Hall of Fame
The 18th class of the IUP Athletic Hall of Fame will be inducted September 14, with a reception at the Indiana Country Club and recognition at halftime of the football game against Cheyney later that afternoon. The class includes 14 former IUP athletes representing nine sports.
The inductees are Craig Stabler ’76, baseball; Don Cavalero ’56 and Yancey Taylor, men’s basketball; Leah Simmons Parow ’93, women’s basketball; Richard Wolf ’77, cross country and track and field; Dean Cottrill ’88, John Griffith ’60, Bob Jamison ’65, Bob Tate ’69, and the late Fred Tomb ’36, football; the late David Cramer ’66, rifle; the late Frank Schatko ’72, M’77, soccer; Tiffany Staver ’96, swimming; and Laura Hall-Gourley ’03, M’05, volleyball.
Indiana County businessman Mario Luther ’76 will receive the Bell Ringer Award for his longtime support of IUP athletics.
Those interested in attending the reception should call Karyl Miller in the athletics department at 724-357-2057.
Part of the first family of western Pennsylvania basketball came to IUP in June when Tom McConnell was hired as the new women’s basketball coach. A former head coach and assistant with decades of experience at the Division I level, McConnell came to IUP after a stint as an assistant at Old Dominion. His sister, Suzie McConnell-Serio, is the head coach at Pitt, and several of his brothers and sisters have been successful players and coaches all over the country. In early spring, Aline Dos Santos was named the new IUP women’s volleyball coach. A native of Brazil, Dos Santos has several years of experience as a Division I assistant, most recently at Akron.
Photo: Keith Boyer
In a photo finish, IUP came oh so close to winning its first Dixon Trophy after finishing three one-hundredths of a point behind West Chester. The PSAC gives out the trophy annually to the top athletics department in the conference based on a formula that averages each team’s finish in conference standings.
Thanks to conference championships in football, golf, and men’s basketball, IUP held the lead for the Dixon Trophy through the fall and winter seasons, but West Chester had a big spring and overtook the Crimson Hawks at the finish, 10.77 to 10.74. This is the fifth time IUP has placed second in the Dixon Trophy standings.
Photo: Keith Boyer
On the playing fields and courts, the Crimson Hawks put together a solid spring, led by the breakout season of the lacrosse team. Under head coach Mindy Richmond, the Crimson Hawks set a school record with 13 wins, advanced to the PSAC semifinals, and hosted a conference tournament game. After the season, IUP swept the conference awards, as Richmond was named PSAC Coach of the Year; Alexa Lodovici, Athlete of the Year; and Drew Hayden, Freshman of the Year. Additionally, Colleen Berlin, Taylor Norwood, and Paige Beierschmitt were named to the all-conference team. Lodovici and Norwood were also named to the All-America team, and Hayden and Amy Weinberg were chosen for the regional all-rookie team.
Photo: Millersville Athletics
The men’s golf team continued to do what it has done under longtime coach Fred Joseph: dominate. During the spring portion of the schedule, the Crimson Hawks claimed the NCAA Division II Atlantic/East Super Region title and advanced to the national championships for the sixth straight year, finishing 14th. In postseason honors, Zack Kempa was named the PSAC Golfer of the Year, and Sean Sweithelm and Kenny Sames were chosen for the all-conference team. That trio also was named to the PING all-region team.
Photo: Millersville Athletics
After a sluggish start to the spring season, coach Larry Peterson’s tennis team rebounded nicely. The Crimson Hawks dropped six of their first seven matches before reeling off a string of 14 wins in a row that included a run to the conference championship match. They eventually made it to the NCAA championship tournament and lost in the first round in Surprise, Arizona. Three players, Katie Eaton, Tanya Timko, and Erika Schnaas, were named to the all-conference team, and Eaton and Timko were picked for the all-region team.
Head coach Jeff Ditch’s baseball team narrowly missed a PSAC playoff berth when it lost a tiebreaker and was left out of the conference tournament with a 27-23 overall record. In individual awards, the Crimson Hawks placed five on the all-conference team: pitcher Stephen Cooke, designated hitter Troy Foster, utility player Brett Quiggle, and infielders Dylan Tice and Robbie Zinsmeister. Cooke and Tice were also named to the all-region team.
The IUP softball team, under the guidance of coach Bill Graham, sported a 26-15 overall record, including six consecutive wins to end the season, but did not earn a spot in the conference playoffs. Despite not being chosen by the coaches for the all-conference team, outfielder Jasa Mitchell was picked for the all-region team.
In track and field, five IUP athletes worked their way through the rigorous regular season to earn a berth at the NCAA Division II championships in Pueblo, Colorado. Jared Long (400-meter hurdles) and Laurie Ajavon (long jump) placed 14th in their respective events, while Alyssa Taddie (women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase) took 16th and Clinton Keller (men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase) and Jessica Rocco (javelin) placed 19th.
Several IUP alumni were selected this spring for induction into one of the many athletic halls of fame dotting the landscape. Three graduates were picked for the Indiana County Sports Hall of Fame: Marty Bolo ’75, Ab Dettorre ’76, M’85, and the late Bert McPherson ’71. Former IUP football standout Butch Aggen ’76, M’78 was inducted in April into the Armstrong County Sports Hall of Fame. Another former IUP football star, John Ballein ’83, was enshrined in June to the Washington-Greene County chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He is currently the associate director of athletics for football operations at Virginia Tech. And, for his 33-year career as a sports writer with the Beaver County Times, Mike Bires ’77 was inducted in April to the Beaver County Sports Hall of Fame.
Following the retirement of Frances Nee as IUP’s associate director of athletics, Steve Roach ’01 returned to his alma mater to fill the position. In his first season as head baseball coach at Indiana High School, Rob Stossel ’97 guided the Indians to their first WPIAL section championship since 2004. Chris Bache ’87 has been named the offensive coordinator for the football team at Ferrum College, an NCAA Division III school in Virginia. Most recently, Bache was an assistant at Kent State, Ohio. This fall, Kenneth Brinkman ’94 will begin his 16th season as head football coach at North Harford High School in Pylesville, Maryland. Brinkman’s team went 11-1 last season. Since the 2008 season, Angelo Sands ’68 has been the men’s golf coach at Florida Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. In September, Dan McCarty ’93 will start his 12th season as the men’s soccer coach at Seton Hill University in Greensburg. Megan Timpf M’10, a former assistant softball coach at IUP, recently completed her second season on the staff at Barry University in Miami, Florida.
More from the Summer 2013 Issue of IUP Magazine
Program puts area residents on path to promising careers
Men's rugby had one of its finest seasons in program history, played out on a national stage
“The stories in this edition provide focus.... a snapshot of what IUP has been and what we must become next.”
Ten alumni were honored with 2013 Distinguished Alumni Awards at an April gala.
Nurse Eva Jane Savel Bolents treated survivors of the most tragic naval event of World War II
IUP celebrated the start to its new chapter with the inauguration of President Michael Driscoll
The benefits of study abroad are vast, but the cost can be prohibitive. A scholarship fund was established to help.
IUP professors visit Guatemala City to witness the prophesied end of the world