IUP hires Cignetti as head coach
Crimson Hawks tab Alabama assistant to run program
Indiana, Pa. Athletics
Frank Condino, director of athletics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has announced that Curt Cignetti, a 28-year veteran assistant coach most recently at the University of Alabama, has been appointed the 11th head coach in the modern era of IUP football.
The 49-year-old Cignetti was formally introduced as head coach at a press conference this morning at Memorial Field House on the IUP campus. He is the oldest son of legendary IUP head coach Frank Cignetti, who retired following the 2005 season.
“We are very pleased and excited to have someone of Curt’s caliber leading our football program,” Condino said. “He is not only an exceptional coach but an outstanding recruiter. I believe Curt has the ability to restore the competitiveness of our football program on the regional and national level.”
Cignetti spent the past four seasons as wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator under Nick Saban at Alabama and helped the Crimson Tide win the 2009 BCS national championship with a 14-0 record. He brought in the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the country in 2008, the first of three straight classes which finished in the top five nationally.
In addition to the national title, Cignetti was part of Alabama teams that posted a record of 33-3 over the past three regular seasons, including 29 consecutive regular season victories, won the 2008 and 2009 SEC West championship and earned a berth in the 2008 Sugar Bowl.
Among his recruits was Mark Ingram, who won the 2008 Heisman Trophy, and he coached Julio Jones, the Associated Press SEC Freshman of the Year and Columbus Touchdown Club National Freshman of the Year the same season. Prior to Jones, Cignetti worked with D.J. Hall, who set Crimson Tide single-season records for catches and receiving yards before those marks were broken by Jones last year.
On the strength of his accomplishments in the recruiting battles and the successes his players had on the field, Cignetti was honored as one of four finalists for the 2010 FootballScoop Wide Receivers Coach of the Year.
Cignetti joined the staff at Alabama after spending seven seasons (2000-06) as the recruiting coordinator at North Carolina State while also coaching tight ends from 2000-02 and 2005-06 and quarterbacks during the 2003 and 2004 campaigns. The Wolfpack qualified for five bowl games during that time, including the 2002 Gator Bowl when N.C. State set a school record with 11 wins.
Two of his recruiting classes ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and Rivals.com named him one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation in 2004. While working with the Wolfpack quarterbacks, Cignetti had the opportunity to coach 2003 ACC Player of the Year Philip Rivers and help prepare him to become the fourth pick in the NFL draft the following spring.
Cignetti first served as a recruiting coordinator during a seven-year stint (1993-99) at the University of Pittsburgh and was chosen one of the top 10 recruiting coordinators in the country by Tom Lemming in 1995. Cignetti also coached the Panther tight ends and quarterbacks at various times under College Football Hall of Fame head coach Johnny Majors.
Cignetti began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Pitt during the 1983 and 1984 seasons and was part of the team’s Fiesta Bowl participant his first year. He coached quarterbacks and receivers at Davidson in 1985 and was the quarterbacks coach at Rice (1986-88) and Temple (1989-92).
“I have known Curt since his undergraduate days as a student-athlete at West Virginia, and I want to emphasize the word student,” Condino said. “He received several awards highlighting his achievements in the classroom while a member of the football team. I have followed his coaching career closely and am not surprised at all the success he has enjoyed.”
Cignetti earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from West Virginia in 1982 and was a quarterback on the Mountaineer football team. He was awarded the Louis D. Meisel Award for Academics and the A.C. “Whitey” Gwynn Award, given to a student-athlete on the football team whose spirit and character contributed to the team’s success.
Cignetti is married to the former Manette Lawer and the couple has three children -- Curtis, Carly and Natalie.