NEW YORK — Columbia has hired Al Bagnoli, who retired as Penn’s coach 13 weeks ago after a long and successful run with the Quakers, to try to revive the Ivy League’s worst football program.
Columbia announced the hiring of Bagnoli on Feb. 23. The 62-year-old Bagnoli was at Penn for 23 years, won nine Ivy League titles and had an overall record of 148-80, including 112-49 in the conference. Penn had six undefeated seasons in the Ivy League and three perfect seasons under Bagnoli.
Bagnoli stepped down after last season, handing the head coaching job to defensive coordinator Ray Priore and moving into an athletic administration job at Penn. Bagnoli’s last league title came three seasons ago, but his last two teams combined to win six games.
“He is a proven winner whose record speaks for itself — and who teaches his student-athletes to win on the field, in the classroom and in life,” Athletic Director Peter Pilling said in a statement. “We are thrilled that he has decided to commit his widely admired leadership to building the long-term success of Columbia football.”
Pilling, a former Vice President at the sports marketing firm IMG College, was hired by Columbia earlier this month. Bagnoli is scheduled to be introduced a news conference on campus Feb. 24.
Columbia fired Pete Mangurian in December after the Lions completed a second straight winless season, running their losing streak to 21 games.
His departure came a day after the Columbia student newspaper reported that a letter from players was given to the university accusing the coach of verbal and physical abuse and trying to force players to play with concussions.
The letter was later retracted. But the university acknowledged the letter and that it investigated whether injured players were mishandled and “found no evidence to support an allegation of a departure from that protocol with our football players.”
Columbia hasn’t had a winning season since 1996 and has not had a coach leave the school with a winning record since 1929.