Monday, November 14, 2005


HEMPSTEAD, NY - Hofstra University Head Football Coach Joe Gardi, who has directed the Pride program since 1990, announced today that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2005 season. He will coach his final home game at Shuart Stadium this Saturday, November 19 when the Pride face fifth-ranked Massachusetts at 1 p.m.

Gardi has recorded a 118-62-2 record in his 16 seasons at Hofstra. Both his win total and the .654 winning percentage rank second in Hofstra football coaching history.

"After reflecting on my coaching career and talking with my family this summer, it became clear that this year was the right time to retire," Gardi said. "I have worked tirelessly for 16 years to take this football program to a level of excellence in I-AA. I feel like I deserve the chance to enjoy time with my family, which is tough to do with the responsibilities and physical demands of being a head coach at this level."

Gardi and his wife, Audrey, have two grown children and four grandchildren. He states family is a key factor in his decision to retire. "When I was coaching for the Jets, I missed out on a lot of opportunities to watch my children grow up. Now I have the chance to enjoy my grandchildren and be there to watch them grow up. The experience as Head Coach of this University has been fulfilling beyond expectations, but I look forward to turning to the next chapter in my life."

Under Gardi's guidance, Hofstra made the jump from NCAA Division III in 1990 to I-AA in 1994. Since then, the Pride have become a nationally recognized I-AA program and have earned five NCAA I-AA championship bids in the last 10 seasons. Over the past 15 years, more than 90 school records, seven ECAC marks, and four NCAA records have either been topped or tied by the Pride. Gardi has also recorded 10 winning seasons during his Pride tenure.

Several of Gardi's former players have gone on to play in the NFL, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. Three of Gardi's former assistant coaches are currently coaching in the NFL. "We have had some exciting football teams to watch in the last 16 years, going all the way back to my first team in 1990," Gardi states. "I have demanded so much of my staff and players over the years. I want to thank all those people who have helped build the Hofstra football program up to what it is today."

As successful as he has been on the field, Gardi is proud of also being a teacher and mentor. "I have always asked my players to hold the Hofstra banner up proud and high," the Pride head coach said. "I have taught my players life skills which they could use beyond the football field. I have had parents thank me for watching over their sons and providing them with an opportunity to develop as football players and men. Receiving compliments like that has made my job even that much more fulfilling."

"Joe Gardi has made a tremendous contribution to the growth of the Hofstra Football program over the past 16 years," said Pride Director of Athletics Jack Hayes. "His vision, drive, enthusiasm and knowledge were instrumental in the program's success over the years. Although he is leaving the sidelines he will always be a part of this program."

A native of Harrison, New Jersey, Gardi was a first-team all-state selection as an offensive guard at Harrison High School in 1955. He attended the University of Maryland from 1956 to 1960 and was the Terrapins' co-captain and Unsung Hero Award winner as an offensive tackle and linebacker in 1959. At 20 years old, Gardi signed a contract with the Washington Redskins, playing in two preseason games in 1960 and also had a tryout with the Buffalo Bills in 1961.

In 1964 Gardi returned to football as head coach at The Oratory Prep in Summit, New Jersey. After a 0-9 season in his first year, he took that program, which had lost 37 consecutive games prior to his arrival, to records of 6-3 in 1965 and 5-4 in 1966. Gardi moved on to Roselle Park High School (New Jersey) to become Head Football Coach and teacher at a school that had not recorded a winning season in 10 years. After a 2-7 first season, Gardi led Roselle Park to a 6-3 mark in 1968 and a 9-0 slate and the state championship in 1969.

Gardi returned to the University of Maryland in 1970 as head freshman coach and recruiter. In his first season of recruiting the Long Island-Metropolitan area, Gardi signed five All-Long Island team players, including Bob Avellini from New Hyde Park, Joe Brancato and Frank Russell from Wantagh, and Jamie Franklin from Brentwood. The following season, he was named to coach the Terrapins' varsity offensive line. In 1972 Maryland's new coach, Jerry Claiborne, rehired Gardi to direct the receivers.

In 1974 Gardi left Maryland for a whirlwind tenure in the World Football League. He served as running backs and special teams coach for the Philadelphia Bell in 1974. Gardi was promoted to interim head coach for the 1975 season opener and led the Bell to a 31-30 victory over the Portland Thunder. Moving to the front office after that victory, Gardi was named head coach of the Thunder two months later and posted a 2-1 record in three games before the league folded.

>From 1976 through 1984, Gardi served as an assistant coach with the Jets under three head coaches. He served as special teams/tight ends coach under Lou Holtz in 1976; special teams/linebackers coach from 1977 to 1980 and defensive coordinator in 1981 and 1982 under Walt Michaels; and assistant head coach/defensive coordinator under Joe Walton in 1983 and 1984. In 1981 the Jets formed the best defensive unit in the American Football Conference, allowing just 304 yards per game, while leading the NFL with 66 sacks. In the strike-shortened 1982 season, the Jets advanced to the AFC Championship game before dropping a 14-0 decision to Miami, despite holding the Dolphins to just 197 yards in the contest.

Gardi came to Hofstra after five years (1985-90) as assistant supervisor of officials for the National Football League. His duties in the League office included the evaluation, recruitment and training of college officials for positions in the professional ranks. Because of his knowledge and support of the officiating profession over the years, Gardi was named to the NCAA Rules Committee in 2003.

Gardi recorded the third undefeated regular season in school history in his first year at Hofstra in 1990. He also recorded the school's first-ever NCAA playoff victories, an NCAA East Regional championship and a berth in the national semifinals in 1990. Under his guidance the team posted eight victories in 13 I-AA games in 1991 and 1992, as the Pride prepared for the move to I-AA. Hofstra recorded a 6-3-1 mark in 1993, and an 8-1-1 record and a 22nd-place national ranking in 1994, the Pride's first official season as a I-AA member.

In 1995 Gardi directed the Dutchmen to a 10-1-0 regular season (losing only to I-AA national finalist Marshall, 30-28), as well as to the I-AA playoffs and Hofstra's first-ever I-AA top 10 national ranking-finishing ninth at the end of the regular season. In the process, Hofstra ranked in the top 10 in the country in seven team statistical categories. For his efforts, Gardi received numerous postseason coaching honors, including the Scotty Whitelaw Award from the Metropolitan Football Writers Association as the ECAC I-AA Coach of the Year. Gardi also became the first recipient of the Vince Lombardi College Coach of the Year Award from the Lombardi Foundation. The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame named Gardi the Division I-AA Coach of the Year, and the National Football League Players Association selected him its I-AA College Coach of the Year. Gardi also received the Long Island Sports Commission's Good Guy Award. A year later Hofstra was ranked in the top 10 in four team statistical categories, including rushing defense, total defense and scoring defense.

In 1997 Hofstra posted a 9-2 regular season record, was ranked 14th in the country, received its second I-AA playoff bid, and ranked second in passing offense, eighth in total offense and ninth in scoring offense. Individually, five Flying Dutchmen placed in the top 10 of four categories. In 1998 the Flying Dutchmen posted an 8-3 record, attained their then highest-ever I-AA ranking at fifth in the nation, and were ranked fifth in scoring offense, 10th in turnover margin, 11th in total offense and 12th in kickoff return average in I-AA.

Hofstra equaled its best I-AA regular season record with a 10-1 mark in 1999 and was ranked as high as fourth in the country. The Pride received their third NCAA I-AA Championship bid, advanced to the quarterfinals, finished the year with an 11-2 overall record and captured the Lambert Cup as the top I-AA program in the East. Hofstra was ranked seventh in scoring defense, 10th in turnover margin, 14th in pass efficiency defense, 24th in scoring offense and 31st in total offense. Gardi was also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award as I-AA Coach of the Year.

In 2000 Hofstra recorded an 8-3 regular season record and was ranked as high as fourth in the country in I-AA. The Pride received their fourth I-AA Playoff bid and defeated Furman on the road in the opening round before losing to eventual national champions Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals. Hofstra finished the year 9-4 and was ranked seventh in the final I-AA poll by The Sports Network. The Pride ranked 11th in scoring offense, 17th in passing offense, 18th in total offense and 21st in turnover margin in I-AA.

In 2001 Hofstra ended its I-AA independent status by joining the Atlantic 10 Football Conference. Gardi directed the Pride to a 9-2 regular season record including a 7-2 conference mark, the League's co-championship, the A-10's automatic bid to the NCAA I-AA Playoffs and a Top 10 final national ranking. As a team, Hofstra ranked in the top 10 in I-AA in total offense (2), punt returns (3), passing offense (4), scoring offense (5) and turnover margin (10).

Gardi currently serves as a board member for the Vince Lombardi Memorial Golf Tournament for Cancer Research and is a member of The Dante Foundation, which provides critical support for Long Island students. Gardi served on the committee for the Christa House charity dinner to benefit a hospice for HIV patients and is a sponsor and supporter for St. Mary's Hospital for Children, Good Samaritan Hospital, Long Island Jewish Hospital, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the New York State Special Olympics.

Joe Gardi at Hofstra

Year Reg. Season Playoffs Final Record Highlights
1990 10-0-0 2-1 12-1-0 NCAA Division III East Champions; national semifinalists
1991 8-2-0 0-0 8-2-0 Played six I-AA opponents
1992 4-6-0 0-0 4-6-0 Played seven I-AA opponents
1993 6-3-1 0-0 6-3-1 First official I-AA season
1994 8-1-1 0-0 8-1-1 I-AA ranking of 22nd in the country
1995 10-1-0 0-1 10-2-0 I-AA playoffs and Top 10 national ranking
1996 5-6-0 0-0 5-6-0 Defense ranked fifth in total defense and sixth in scoring
1997 9-2-0 0-1 9-3-0 I-AA playoffs, ranked 14th, second in passing and eighth in offense
1998 8-3-0 0-0 8-3-0 Team ranked fifth in I-AA in scoring and 11th in total offense
1999 10-1-0 1-1 11-2-0 I-AA quarterfinals, Lambert Cup champions, ranked fifth in I-AA
2000 8-3-0 1-1 9-4-0 I-AA quarterfinals; ranked seventh in I-AA
2001 9-2-0 0-1 9-3-0 I-AA Playoffs, Atlantic 10 co-champions, top 10 ranking
2002 6-6-0 0-0 6-6-0 Won last four games of the season
2003 2-10-0 0-0 2-10-0 Defeated two Top 20 opponents
2004 5-6-0 0-0 5-6-0 Ranked in the Top 20 in five I-AA statistical categories
2005 6-4-0 0-0 6-4-0
Total 114-56-2 4-6 118-62-2 The second best winning pct. in school history (.654)


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