Countdown to Cortaca, Part 7: Remembering Richard Carmean ’60

By Patrick Bohn, July 28, 2022

Cortaca Jug co-founder passed away in May.

From November 10-12, 2022, Ithaca College will be hosting a weekend-long “IC in the City” experience in New York City for alumni and current students, faculty, and staff.  The centerpiece of this event, the 63rd annual Cortaca Jug football game between Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland, will take place on November 12 at Yankee Stadium. To highlight this amazing opportunity, we will be publishing a yearlong series titled “Countdown to Cortaca: Bombers in the Bronx,” highlighting the entire weekend. 

The Ithaca College community has lost an icon as Richard "Dick" N. Carmean '60 passed away in Rochester, N.Y. on May 23, 2022, at the age of 89. Carmean played football and track and field at IC and was the co-founder of the Cortaca Jug, which has grown to be recognized as one of the greatest rivalries in all of college sports.

In 1959, Carmean and Tom Decker, a captain for the Cortland football program who passed away in 2015, were at a yard sale in Homer, N.Y. Decker purchased a $2 jug from a farmer, and the two painted it blue, gold, red and white in honor of both schools' colors. This became the first of three jugs awarded to the winner of the annual Cortaca Jug Game.

Heading into its 63rd installment, the Cortaca Jug has grown to be known as one of the most highly anticipated college football games in Division III and was once tabbed as the "The Biggest Little Game in the Nation" by Sports Illustrated. The rivalry was on full display on November 16, 2019, as the Cortaca Jug ventured down to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. – Carmean's home state – for the 61st Jug Game and drew an NCAA Division III record crowd of 45,161 fans.

The 63rd Jug Game, which is scheduled for November 12, 2022, will be played at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

None of that would be possible without Carmean, whose impact on the Ithaca College football program has been felt for decades.

Dick Carmean is synonymous with the Cortaca Jug. Without his and Tom Decker's vision more than 60 years ago, we wouldn't have this rivalry today. And this year, we will be center stage at Yankee Stadium. We lost an icon in this rivalry, and he will be sorely missed, but we can't thank him enough for what he means to the Ithaca-Cortland football rivalry.”

Susan Bassett ’79, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports

Dick Carmean is synonymous with the Cortaca Jug,” said Susan Bassett ’79, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics and recreational sports. “Without his and Tom Decker's vision more than 60 years ago, we wouldn't have this rivalry today. It's truly remarkable to think that an Upstate New York college football game became the most-attended contest in Division III history. And this year, we will be center stage at Yankee Stadium. We lost an icon in this rivalry, and he will be sorely missed, but we can't thank him enough for what he means to the Ithaca-Cortland football rivalry.”

Mike Welch ’73, who served as the Bombers’ head coach from 1994 until 2016, recalled his interactions with Carmean fondly.

“The first time we met was when he stopped by Friday's practice before a Cortaca game,” he said. “He was up in the stands looking down at our practice. I asked if he would like to join us and say a few words to the team.

“I brought the team together and I introduced him as the captain who started the Cortaca tradition in 1959,” Welch continued. “You could hear a pin drop. He was humble, and I still remember what he told the players: ‘I want to congratulate you on your season. I know this is a big game. Playing Cortland is always big. Keeping the Jug in Ithaca is important to me and all alumni. However, most of all, it is for you, this Bomber team. Play together and know that all former players are behind you.’

“He continued to visit our team throughout the years and became a good friend and inspiration to us all.”

“It didn't take long before I realized the impact Dick had made on our football program, and the Cortaca Jug. He will forever be a part of the Bomber football family, and his impact will be felt when we take the field at Yankee Stadium.”

Michael Toerper, head football coach

Current head coach and former defensive coordinator Michael Toerper quickly recognized how important Carmean was to IC football when he arrived at Ithaca College in 2017.

“It didn't take long before I realized the impact Dick had made on our football program, and the Cortaca Jug,” he said. “He will forever be a part of the Bomber football family, and his impact will be felt when we take the field at Yankee Stadium.” 

Carmean was also remembered fondly by those at SUNY Cortland.

A standout two-sport athlete in track and field as well as football at IC, Carmean and was inducted into the Ithaca Athletic Hall of Fame in 1973. During his senior year, he was named captain of the football team and was named an all-American.

Stay in the Loop

Planning and preparation continue for IC in the City and Cortaca Jug 2022. For more information and to learn about opportunities for alumni, students, faculty, staff, and IC community members, please visit the “IC in the City” homepage.