Rich Cavanaugh has announced his retirement as head football coach at Southern, effective January 1, 2014. Cavanaugh has enjoyed an affiliation with the university since 1982 and served as head coach of the Owls’ gridiron squad since 1985.
“Rich Cavanaugh has left an indelible mark on both our football program and our institution as a whole over more than three decades of service to Southern Connecticut State University,” said Director of Athletics Patricia D. Nicol. “Over the course of his tenure, he guided our program to newfound heights on the playing field, in the classroom and in the community.
“The impact that Coach Cavanaugh has had on thousands of student-athletes goes far beyond the wins and losses. Through his commitment and dedication, our institution has been impacted in such a profound way. I thank Rich for his service to Southern Connecticut State University and wish him and his wife, Carol, all the best in retirement.”
Cavanaugh concludes his career as the winningest (170 victories) and longest tenured head coach in program history. He recorded 19 winning seasons on the Owls’ sidelines, highlighted by four consecutive NCAA Championship appearances from 2005-08.
“It has been a great honor to serve as the head football coach at Southern Connecticut State University for the past 29 years,” Cavanaugh said. “The success that we have enjoyed as a program over that time has been the byproduct of support from an extensive group of individuals.
“I want to thank everyone affiliated with our administration during my time here at SCSU, beginning with Ray DeFrancesco for providing the opportunity to serve as our head coach, and stretching up to today with the great support from our university President Dr. Mary Papazian and Director of Athletics Pat Nicol.
“I also want to thank all of the assistant coaches and student-athletes who have been a part of our program during my time here at SCSU. Each and every one has had a profound impact on my life. I am forever grateful for their hard work and dedicated efforts to making our program and our university the best it could be.”
Southern Connecticut claimed its first NCAA playoff victory during the 2007 season under Cavanaugh’s guidance. The Owls also earned a share of three Northeast-10 Conference Championships (2006, 2009, 2010).
Over the course of his career, Cavanaugh coached 148 All-Conference selections, 66 All-New England honorees, 53 All-ECAC performers, 17 All-Americans, 14 All-Northeast Region picks, six Offensive Players of the Year, three Northeast-10 Most Valuable Players, three NE-10 Rookies of the Year, three NE-10 Defensive Players of the Year, two NE-10 Defensive Linemen of the Year, two Division II-III Gold Helmet Award winners (Jim Lukowiak in 2005 and Steve Armstrong in 2007) and two NE-10 Offensive Linemen of the Year.
The 2008 Northeast-10 Coach of the Year, Cavanaugh finishes his career with an overall mark of 170-131-1 in 29 seasons as head coach. He ranks No. 29 in NCAA Division II history in coaching victories with his 170 triumphs.
Several Owls moved on to the National Football League after playing for Cavanaugh at SCSU, including Joe Andruzzi (10-year career with the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns; three-time Super Bowl Champion), Jacques Cesaire (eight seasons with the San Diego Chargers), Scott Mersereau (eight seasons with the New York Jets) and Travis Tucker (three seasons with the Cleveland Browns).
A national search for Cavanaugh’s successor will begin immediately.