TROY, N.Y. — Joe King, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s winningest head football coach of all time, has announced he is stepping down from the position he has held for the past 22 seasons.
“It is time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” said King, who was named head coach in 1989. “Working at RPI and coaching all the kids I have for so many years has been a tremendously rewarding experience that has impacted me and my family incredibly.
“I want to thank my wife, Gail, my boys, Joey and Kevin, and the rest of my family for their support. I also thank the players who worked so hard to improve themselves for the betterment of the teams. I also cannot speak highly enough about the assistant coaches I had the privilege to work with.”
During his tenure, King compiled a 152-59-2 record for a .718 winning percentage, making him the most successful coach in terms of both wins and winning percentage in the 123-year history of Rensselaer football. He led his teams to two perfect regular seasons, five league championships, four NCAA Playoff appearances, highlighted by a trip to the National Semifinals in 2003, and nine ECAC Championship Games, eight of which were victories.
In his 22 years as the head coach, King led the Engineers to 19 winning seasons, including eight-or-more wins 12 times. His teams had five seasons of just one loss and nine with only two defeats. In comparison, in the 99 years of Rensselaer football prior to King being named the head coach, there were 21 winning seasons with no team winning at least eight games. Only one went without a loss, seven lost just once and four took two losses in a season. The next closest coach in terms of victories is Paul “Pop” Graham, who was 37-34-9 in 80 games in the 1920s and 1940s.
“What Joe King accomplished as the football coach at Rensselaer is nothing short of astounding,” said Rensselaer Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton. “He has given tremendously to the Institute and our student-athletes. Clearly RPI Athletics would not be the same without his passion and dedication and we are forever thankful.”
King, who was named the league’s Coach of the Year five times, has coached more than 30 pre-season All-Americas, 20 post-season All-Americas (including Rensselaer’s first American Football Coaches Association First Team All-America in 1996) and countless All-Region and All-Conference honorees. All nine of the program’s First Team National Academic All-Americas have suited up for King.
The highlight of King’s tenure came in 2003 when he led the Engineers to a school-record 11 wins (11-2) and a spot in the Division III National Semifinals for the first time in school history. Among the team’s victories were wins in three Trophy Games – the Shot Glass, Transit and Dutchman Shoes – and the school’s first three NCAA Tournament wins. The Engineers were listed in the top 10 in each of the final national polls, earned the ECAC Division III Upstate Team of the Year Award and captured the prestigious Lambert Meadowlands Trophy.
In addition to being named the league’s Coach of the Year, King was selected as the East Region Coach of the Year as well as the Division III National Coach of the Year by Schutt Sports.
King originally arrived at Rensselaer in 1981, spending his first five seasons as an assistant coach. He then enjoyed a three-year stint as associate head coach before being appointed head coach. In addition to his duties as head football coach, King served as an assistant athletic director, a position he has held for the past eight years. He was also RPI’s head track & field coach.
A 1970 graduate of Siena College with a bachelor’s degree in history, King played football and baseball as an undergraduate. The Ballston Spa, N.Y., native then became a teacher and a coach, enjoying tremendous success at St. Peter’s High School in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and Watervliet High School in Watervliet, N.Y.
King’s resignation is immediate and a national search to find Rensselaer’s next head football coach will be undertaken right away.
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