WATERVILLE — Jack Cosgrove, the winningest coach in University of Maine football history, is bringing his passion and skills to Colby College as the new head football coach, the school announced on Friday.

Cosgrove, head coach for the Black Bears for 23 years, takes over at Colby on January 8.

“Jack’s extensive experience, energy, and proven success make him the right person to lead Colby football into a new era,” said Jake Olkkola, Colby’s Harold Alfond Director of Athletics, who led the search.

A national search yielded an impressive candidate pool, Olkkola said. Cosgrove’s years of victories on the field — and in recruiting and developing the best student athletes — made him the top choice for a program that is poised for success.

Cosgrove is the 41st head coach since the Colby football program started in 1892, but only the seventh since 1967. Since stepping aside from the Black Bears in November 2015, Cosgrove has been the senior associate director of athletics at University of Maine.

“It’s with great excitement and anticipation that I accept this position,” Cosgrove said. “I would like to thank Colby and its leadership for providing me with this great opportunity. To say I’m excited would be an understatement.”

Cosgrove’s tenure in Orono included 129 career wins, the most in University of Maine football history, five NCAA postseason appearances, and 20 All-American selections. The Black Bears won a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) title in 2013 and Atlantic 10 championships in 2001 and 2002.

While Cosgrove’s teams had success on the field, he also recruited and guided students to academic success. The Black Bears had numerous CAA All-Academic honors and two CAA Student-Athlete of the Year selections.

“Jack’s experience and leadership will be invaluable to the entire athletic department and Colby community,” said head women’s lacrosse coach Karen Henning, who served on the search committee and has led her team to multiple NESCAC championships.

Two of the football team captains, Shane Normandeau and Sebastien Philemon, served on the advisory search committee.

“We are extremely excited to have coach Cosgrove as our next head coach,” they wrote in an email. “The minute we met him, we knew he was somebody we wanted to learn from and be coached by. We are excited for this coming year and for the future of the Colby football program.”

Cosgrove, a native of Sharon, Mass., started his Maine football career as a quarterback for the university in 1974, throwing for 2,836 career yards before graduating in 1978. He was a graduate assistant coach for the team while earning his master’s degree in educational administration in 1981. 

After four years coaching high school football in Stoughton, Mass., Cosgrove returned to the college level as an offensive assistant at Boston College. He headed north to Orono as an offensive assistant in 1987, and never left, taking over the Black Bear program in 1993.

Cosgrove and his wife, Marilyn, have four children: Jeri, 25, twins Matthew and Carly, 22, and Sydni, 20.

“I look forward to working with the faculty, administrators, coaches, and staff as Colby pursues excellence in football,” Cosgrove said. “Most importantly, I can’t wait to meet and start working with the student athletes and young men who represent the Colby football program.”

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