PSAC coaches recruit more than athletes
College Football Videos
Coaches in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference do more than strategize, recruit or teach fundamentals.
They're often fundraisers.
East Stroudsburg men's basketball coach Jeff Wilson divides his year into segments. Aside from on-court coaching, he said his biggest responsibilities are recruiting and reaching out to potential donors.
Because scholarship money at PSAC schools cannot come from their state-allocated funds, members of the athletic department must chip in to raise it themselves.
“From March until August, one of my primary responsibilities is talking to donors, taking them to lunch, taking them to dinner, maybe playing golf, sitting down with them and having a conversation,” Wilson said. “That takes time.”
Wilson said he will write down names at the beginning of the month and set a goal of contacting each person.
Although he sets financial goals for himself and his staff, he refuses to openly ask for money. Instead, he talks about current players and offers updates on the program.
Examining a five-year period between 2009-14, Wilson's program finished first or second among PSAC East men's basketball programs in scholarships raised, averaging 5.05 per season.
Two of the men most frequently credited for perfecting this way of doing business are former Cal (Pa.) football coach John Luckhardt and former IUP football coach Frank Cignetti Sr., retirees who remain close friends.
When Cignetti, now 76, took over at IUP in 1986, he “identified five or six businesses in the Indiana area or individuals who could make major contributions to our program.”
More money poured in when Cignetti sold signs around the field for $5,000 each and tried to get individuals to set up endowments.
As the budget got bigger, so did IUP's reputation on a national level.
Cignetti went 182-50-1 (.783) and had IUP ranked in the NCAA Division II Top 20 each season from 1986 to 2004.
IUP posted undefeated regular seasons in 1991 and '93 and made two NCAA championship game appearances under Cignetti, the program's all-time wins leader.
“We knew that if you wanted to be competitive on the national level, you weren't going to do it without scholarship money,” Cignetti said.
When Luckhardt took over at Cal prior to the 2002 season, he immediately implemented ideas that Cignetti put to work at IUP.
To this day, Luckhardt remains one of Cal's chief fundraisers for football and urges players to write letters to potential donors.
“He set the standard in the PSAC,” Luckhardt said of Cignetti. “When he took over in the 1980s, he changed the dynamic in terms of fundraising. He built a national program that no one else had in the league.
“I know I'm not the sharpest guy in the room, but I can figure out that if that's how (Cignetti) does it, you should probably try to emulate that.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- District college notes: Pitt-Greensburg hosting annual run/walk
- Cal U QB Harris snags weekly award
- District college roundup: Buechel leads Duquesne past Monmouth