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Retiring Waynesburg director and coach leaves his mark

Few names are more connected to Waynesburg University athletics than Rudy Marisa.

For more than three decades, he led the Yellow Jackets men's basketball team and in 1983, he became Director of Athletics.

After 41 years with the university, Marisa will retire in July.

"He will be missed, and as a campus community, we wish nothing but the absolute best for him and his entire family as he moves on to this next chapter in his life," university President Timothy R. Thyreen said.

Marisa said all aspects of the college game have changed.

"Looking back 41 years ago, there was not the emphasis on recruiting in all of the institutions. Our competitors were not actively recruiting nearly as much and facilities were not as good as they are now," Marisa said. "But, over the years, new coaches were brought in and facilities were increased in size and improved upon. In general, sports are more emphasized and refined now than they were."

After taking over as the team's head coach in 1969, Marisa guided the Yellow Jackets to 565 wins, which ranks him 10th in Division III.

His greatest achievements on the court came during Waynesburg's run as an NAIA powerhouse in the 1980s.

The Jackets finished the decade winning 82 percent of their games and made the District 18 playoffs for 15 straight seasons.

The program reached its peak in the 1987-88 campaign. After losing the season opener, the Yellow Jackets won 32 games in a row on their way to the NAIA Final Four.

Marisa became the Waynesburg Director of Athletics and seven years after his hiring, he helped lead the athletic programs into a new era as Waynesburg joined the Presidents' Athletic Conference, an NCAA Division III conference, in 1990.

Marisa continued to coach the Jackets until his retirement following the 2002-03 season.

His greater impact may have been as an athletics administrator. During his time in the position, all of Waynesburg's athletic facilities have undergone upgrades.

John F. Wiley Stadium, the home of Waynesburg's football, soccer and lacrosse teams, saw its bleachers expanded and a new artificial playing surface installed.

Waynesburg's gymnasium, which was renamed the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse in 2000, was expanded and had a second basketball court added. This past year, the school built a new artificial surface baseball field.

Marisa and his wife of more than 50 years, Jackie, have four sons: Kurt, Kent, Kameron and Kerry, and a daughter, Autumn.

"I'm truly humbled by holding the position of coach and athletic director for so many years," Marisa said. "I'll be appreciative forever towards the administrators who treated me with respect and cooperation. I'll never forget the coaches and players who worked with me and for me, and how can I forget the local community who, for years, supported us and filled the old gymnasium back in the old days."

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