Ithaca College's head football coach, Mike Welch ’73, has announced his intention to retire at the conclusion of the 2016 campaign.
“With Bomber pride in my heart and great consideration for the program I love, my wife Sue and I have decided that it is time to begin a new chapter in our lives at the end of this academic year,” announced Mike Welch, a 1973 Ithaca College graduate who has served as the school's head football coach since 1994. “Our love of Ithaca College is deep, and I look forward to leading the 2016 Bomber football team to the success our tradition expects.”
“I have been blessed with the opportunity to coach outstanding young men in an environment that values the role athletics plays in the educational experience of our students,” Welch said. “At Ithaca College, we do things the right way and I am proud and grateful to have been part of this great program for 38 years. In fairness to the program to plan for an appropriate transition, I want to make my intentions known at this time. My focus and attention will be on the success of the 2016 Bombers, establishing a great recruiting base and preparing for an orderly transition. I have every confidence that IC will find an excellent leader for Bomber football, and that process is in good hands with our Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Susan Bassett ’79.”
Coach Welch has completed 22 seasons at the helm of Bomber football, during which he has led the program to eight Empire 8 Conference Championships, eight appearances in the NCAA Championship and four ECAC Bowl games. Under Coach Welch's guidance, the program advanced to the NCAA semifinals once, and the quarterfinals three times. His teams have been consistent playoff contenders and he owns a record of 164-73 (.692) as the Bombers’ coach. In 2014, Welch served as the president of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA). Mike Welch was inducted into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame in September of 2015. Welch's duties at Ithaca College officially run through the 2016-17 academic year.
At the conclusion of his first year as head coach in 1994, Welch was named Division III Coach of the Year by College Sports Magazine and Eastern Division III Coach of the Year (Stan Lomax-Irving Marsh Award) by the Football Writers of New York. He has also been selected as coach of the year by the Empire 8 four times since 2003.
“It is an honor and a privilege to work with Mike Welch,” said Bassett. “Ithaca College has benefited enormously from his commitment to excellence as the leader of our football program. First and foremost, Mike is an educator of the highest order, teaching the men in his charge how to conduct themselves with sportsmanship, integrity and class; values and lessons learned that will serve them well in life after Ithaca and football.”
“Mike Welch is a consummate professional and highly regarded by his coaching peers at every level of collegiate football, as demonstrated by his selection as president of the American Football Coaches Association,” Bassett continued. “Mike is true ‘Bomber’ blue and has taken the mantle from our legendary football coaches, Dick Lyon and Jim Butterfield, adding his own luster to their legacy.”
A national search for a new head coach will commence in November, with the goal of having the next leader of Ithaca College football named in December. Bassett noted on the search process, “I respect and appreciate Coach Welch's decision to share his plans at this time to allow for an excellent search process for this important position. The search for our next head coach will be thorough, and I expect nothing less than an excellent result. Now, it is time to turn our attention to having an outstanding 2016 season. I want our players, coaches, family, fans and friends to enjoy the upcoming IC football campaign. There is nothing better than football on South Hill. Go Bombers!”
A press conference will be held tomorrow morning, August 11th, at 10 a.m. in the Hill Center on campus.