At the forefront of RMU's golden age of intercollegiate athletics is Craig Coleman, M.D., who is in his eighth academic year as Director of Athletics at Robert Morris University in 2012-13. He was named to the position Feb. 15, 2005.
Led by Coleman's guidance, the RMU department of athletics has continued to progress on both a regional and national level.
Robert Morris continued its successful run in 2011-12, as the women's ice hockey squad captured its first College Hockey America (CHA) Tournament championship, while both the men's lacrosse and softball teams claimed Northeast Conference (NEC) regular-season championships.
Also in 2011-12, the men's basketball team tied a school record for victories (26) and appeared in its fourth straight NEC Tournament championship game. The men's basketball squad was one of six programs that either tied or established a new school record for victories in 2011-12.
Away from competition, the department of athletics continued to excel in the classroom with Coleman at the helm.
A total of 20 of RMU's 23 athletics programs finished with team GPA's of 3.0 or higher in 2011-12, with women's cross country (3.785), women's indoor and outdoor track & field (3.545), women's volleyball (3.655), softball (3.650), women's lacrosse (3.380) and men's lacrosse (3.140) posting the highest team GPA's of any institution in the Northeast Conference.
Those seven sports helped bolster RMU in earning the 2012 NEC Institutional Academic Award for the first time in school history. Student-athletes that compete in 20 NEC sponsored sports combined to post a 3.279 GPA during the 2011-12 academic year to establish a new league record.
Robert Morris also had five student-athletes named the NEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year in their respective sport in 2011-12, while a pair from both the women's and men's ice hockey squads were tabbed CHA Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Atlantic Hockey Association (AHA) Scholar-Athlete of the Year, respectively.
The success for the Colonials in 2011-12 is just part of a period of unparalleled growth for the department of athletics under Coleman's leadership.
In 2010, the RMU football team earned the NEC's inaugural bid to the NCAA Football Championships Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs, the 12th straight year a program from Robert Morris earned an automatic bid in an NCAA Tournament.
In the summer of 2010, Coleman was instrumental in helping to attract the 2013 NCAA Men's Division I Frozen Four to the city of Pittsburgh, which will be played at the CONSOL Energy Center, the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL). The 2013 NCAA Frozen Four will mark the first time in NCAA history a national championship in a major team sport will be decided in Pittsburgh.
The winning bid for the NCAA Frozen Four in 2013 came on the heels of a 2010 spring season in which the Robert Morris men's basketball team made its second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament, becoming a household name after almost pulling off an upset of Big East foe Villanova in the first round.
In addition, the Robert Morris women's basketball squad made its inaugural appearance in the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT), while the men's lacrosse program, in just its sixth year of existence, earned its first national ranking by the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA).
In his first year as director of athletics in 2005-06, Robert Morris placed a total of nine student-athletes covering six sports on the ESPN The Magazine District II Academic All-America District II Team, the most in school history.
Coleman has also overseen the development of a new Robert Morris athletics logo and mascot as well as the launching of the official website for RMU athletics at www.rmucolonials.com.
Nine head coaches have been hired by Coleman, including a pair of men's basketball head coaches in Mike Rice and Andrew Toole. Also hired by Coleman are Midge McPhail (women's rowing), Jeff Layman (men's and women's tennis), Olivia Netzler (field hockey), Dale Starr (volleyball), Paul Colontino (women's ice hockey), Drew McMinn (men's lacrosse) and John Banaszak (coach-in-waiting for football).
All the while, Coleman has built a winning softball program at Robert Morris over the past 22 years. During that period, RMU has won six Northeast Conference regular-season championships and six NEC Tournament titles.
In 2012, Coleman led the softball program to its sixth NEC regular-season title with a record of 15-5 (.750). Overall the Colonials posted a record of 35-22 (.614), establishing a new school record for wins, as freshman Nicole Sleith was tabbed both the NEC Pitcher of the Year and the NEC Rookie of the Year.
In 2005, Robert Morris finished with a record of 17-3 (.850) in league play to claim the NEC regular-season championship, followed by a perfect 3-0 record in the NEC Tournament to claim its sixth title and earn its first bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to his arrival as head coach in 1991, the Colonials posted just 19 victories in the previous three seasons. During his 22 years as head coach, the Colonials have posted an overall record of 552-481-4 (.534), including a record of 241-94-2 (.718) against NEC foes.
In his first four years as head coach, Coleman guided the Colonials to an overall record of 119-62 (.657) and four conference championships. In 1994, Robert Morris received its first national ranking in school history, regardless of sport, when the Colonials were ranked as high as No. 23 in the USA Today / National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll.
Coleman's success as head softball coach has come not only on the field, but in the classroom, as well. His players include 15 Capital One District II Academic All-Americans, five NEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year for softball and numerous NEC All-Academic Honor Roll selections.
In the spring of 2011, former Colonial Annie Dubovec (2008-2011) became the first female student-athlete in Robert Morris history to be named to the Capital One Academic All-America First Team by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
In 2009, Robert Morris achieved the highest cumulative team grade point average among all Division I softball programs according to the NFCA, finishing with a 3.610 grade point average. It marked the second time under Coleman's watch Robert Morris finished in the top five, as in 2000 the Colonials finished second with a 3.409 team grade point average, behind only Louisiana Tech (3.571).
Prior to being hired as RMU's Director of Athletics, Coleman worked as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine from 1988 to 2005. He served as the Medical Director of several impatient units, residential treatment facilities and partial hospital programs at UPMC.
Coleman earned his medical degree from The Pennsylvania State University School of Medicine in Hershey in 1983. In 1979, he earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Coleman will serve his fourth season on the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) committee in 2012-13. As chair of the East Region, Coleman helps select the playoff bracket each year.