Bloomberg News

Gagliardi, College Football Coach With Most Wins, Retires at 86

November 19, 2012

Saint John’s University's Coach John Gagliardi

Saint John's University's football coach John Gagliardi retires with a record of 489-138-11. Photograph: The St. Cloud Times via AP Photo

John Gagliardi, whose 489 wins are more than any other coach in college football history, is retiring from Division III Saint John’s University in Minnesota.

The 86-year-old Gagliardi has coached for 64 years, 60 at the all-male school in Collegeville, Minnesota, according to the university’s athletics web page. He retires with a record of 489-138-11, 81 more victories than former Grambling State coach Eddie Robinson.

“Nobody ever said that getting older was easy,” Gagliardi said on the website. “Luckily I’ve always been blessed with great players, friends, family and support to make it this far.”

Gagliardi doesn’t allow players to call him “coach.” His biography on the university website details his methods, which include no tackling in practice, no whistles, no athletic scholarships and no practices longer than 90 minutes.

He will remain on staff until his contract expires on June 30 and a search for his successor will begin immediately, the school said. Saint John’s, a Catholic liberal arts school with an undergraduate enrollment of 1,900, finished the season 5-5, its 44th consecutive non-losing campaign.

“Arguably, John Gagliardi has impacted the lives of as many young men as any individual in the history of Saint John’s University,” school President Michael Hemesath said on the website. “His legacy of educating young men at Saint John’s is one that any coach or professor would envy.”

Gagliardi was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He won 30 conference title and national championships in 1963, 1965, 1976 and 2003.

Former Florida State University coach Bobby Bowden has the most wins at college football’s top level, 377.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net


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