Tavani Steps Down after 17 Seasons

Nov. 30, 2016

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EASTON, Pa. -- After 17 seasons at the helm of the Lafayette football program, head coach Frank Tavani has announced his retirement. Tavani recently finished his 40th season coaching collegiate football and 30th on the Lafayette staff.

Tavani accumulated the second most coaching wins in the program's history (84), trailing only his predecessor Bill Russo. He was part of seven Patriot League titles -- three as an assistant coach (1988, 1992, 1994) under Russo and four as head coach (2004, 2005, 2006, 2013). The four Patriot League titles under his watch also coincided with NCAA FCS Playoff appearances. His teams in 2002, 2007 and 2009 finished a game out of first place in the Patriot League standings.

A national search for Tavani's replacement will begin immediately. Offense coordinator Mickey Fein will serve as the interim head coach until Tavani's successor is named.

"Coach Tavani's success on the football field only begins to tell the story of what he has meant to our student athletes for nearly three decades," said Lafayette President Alison R. Byerly. "He has been a dedicated teacher, adviser and mentor to hundreds of young men who will forever value the life lessons he taught."

Tavani's tenure may best be remembered for a 27-7 victory over Lehigh in Yankee Stadium in 2014. That November day with the Leopards' top two quarterbacks sidelined with injuries, Tavani went to what he knew best -- the run game. Ross Scheuerman '15 and the offense did not disappoint, despite the obvious game plan. Scheuerman finished with a school-record 304 rushing yards in front of a sold out crowd of nearly 50,000 in the 150th meeting of college football's most-played rivalry.

"I want to congratulate Frank on his excellent career at Lafayette and thank him for his many years of dedicated service. His mentorship of scores of football student-athletes over the decades was remarkable and worthy of praise," said Lafayette Director of Athletics Bruce McCutcheon. "Our football program saw many highlights including championships and thrilling wins over Lehigh under Frank's leadership and we salute him for those accomplishments. We wish Frank and his family the very best in his retirement."

From 2004 to 2009, Lafayette spent time in the Top 25 and was the only Patriot League program with a winning record in every regular season during that span. Lafayette boasted a 26-10 Patriot League record, winning three consecutive championships from 2004-06. In the midst of that championship run, the Leopards laid claim to the Patriot League's automatic NCAA bid in 2004 and 2006, while earning the program's first at-large berth in 2005.

Tavani was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2004 and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson National I-AA Coach of the Year. He retires with a career overall record of 84-107, a 46-54 mark in Patriot League play and a 7-10 mark against Lehigh.

"It's been an honor and privilege to serve as the head coach of the Lafayette football program. I leave here with my head held high -- very proud of the many accomplishments we have achieved," Tavani said. "I've had the pleasure of coaching fine, outstanding young men who are wholly dedicated to their academic pursuits and representing Lafayette on the football field. I wish the program the utmost success."

During Tavani's 17-year head coaching tenure, Lafayette garnered 121 selections on the All-Patriot League teams (52 First-Team, 69 Second-Team) with three Offensive Player of the Year (Phil Yarberough - 2000, Joe McCourt - 2004, Jonathan Hurt - 2006), two Defensive Player of the Year (Andy Romans -- 2007-08) and four Rookie of the Year (Marko Glavic - 2000, McCourt - 2001, Scheuerman - 2011 and Jamel Smith - 2012) award winners.

Tavani's teams consistently achieved in the classroom with student-athletes garnering 32 Academic All-District selections. Tavani helped mentor five Patriot League scholar-athletes of the year in Mark Ross, Brad Maurer, Maurice Bennett, Stephen Bono and Stewart Kupfer. Since 2010, when the Academic All-Patriot League Team was established, Lafayette student-athletes have been featured 15 times.

In 2013, the Lafayette football program had the highest academic progress rate (APR) in the NCAA FCS Playoffs and registered the fourth-best graduation success rate (GSR) in the NCAA. In 2015, Lafayette earned the NCAA's Public Recognition Award for being in the top 10 percent nationally in APR. In 2016, the Leopards posted a GSR of 96, tied for eighth best in the nation (first in the Patriot League) among 248 Division I schools.

Tavani became Lafayette's 27th head coach when he took the job on Dec. 11, 1999 after serving as the Lafayette running backs coach for 13 years.

Tavani's impact extended beyond the playing field and the classroom. He worked with college officials and major donors on the $33 million transformation of Fisher Stadium that now features the 24,000 square foot Bourger Varsity Football House as the home of Lafayette football. The year before coming to Lafayette, Tavani served as the defensive coordinator at Lebanon Valley College, his alma mater. During that time, he was also Lebanon Valley's director of alumni services and parents' programs. From 1976-85, Tavani was the offensive coordinator at Franklin and Marshall College, helping guide the Diplomats to a 10-year record of 67-23-1.

As an undergraduate at Lebanon Valley, Tavani was an outstanding running back, earning the team's Most Valuable Player honors twice in his career. As a senior, he became the school's first player to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. An Associated Press All-American as a senior, he was inducted into the school's Athletic Hall of Fame in the fall of 1988. Tavani was inducted into the Lebanon Catholic High School Hall of Fame in its inaugural class in March 2004 and joined the Central Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in November 2006. Tavani earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Lebanon Valley in 1975, and completed postgraduate work in Counselor Education.

Tavani and his wife, Agnes, reside on College Hill, and are the parents of four children. Liam '03, Meghan '06 and Bridget '13 are Lafayette graduates while Daniel graduated from Wofford College in 2008 where he was a four-year letterwinner in football. The Tavanis have four grandchildren, Jackson, Natalie, Madelyn and Knox.