At the forefront of RMU’s golden age of intercollegiate athletics is Craig Coleman, M.D., who is in his 13th academic year as Director of Athletics at Robert Morris in 2017-18. 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 2016-17, as the women’s ice hockey claimed the College Hockey America (CHA) Tournament championship, while women’s basketball claimed its second consecutive Northeast Conference (NEC) Tournament title. Both teams earned automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, with women’s ice hockey earning its first appearance in program history.
The success the two programs had for Robert Morris in 2016-17 marked the fourth consecutive year RMU has sent a pair of programs to an NCAA Tournament.
Away from competition, the department of athletics continued to excel in the classroom with Coleman at the helm. Student-athletes who competed in 16 sports combined to post a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.391 during the 2016-17 academic year, with a total of 14 of RMU’s 16 programs finishing with team GPA’s of 3.0 or higher.
The continued success for the Colonials in recent years is just part of a period of unparalleled growth for the department of athletics under Coleman’s leadership.
In 2015-16, both volleyball and women’s basketball advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The year before, men’s basketball and men’s golf team earned automatic bids, while in 2013-14, women’s basketball and men’s ice hockey teams played in the NCAA Tournament. That year marked the first time in school history a pair of teams earned automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament.
During the 2012-13 campaign, men’s basketball and softball claimed NEC regular-season championships. The men’s basketball squad also became the center of the college basketball universe when it defeated defending national champion Kentucky in the first round of the 2013 National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in front of 3,444 fans at the Charles L. Sewall Center, the largest crowd in school history.
The women’s ice hockey team claimed its first College Hockey America (CHA) Tournament championship in 2012. The Colonials snapped Mercyhurst’s streak of nine straight titles thanks to a 3-2 victory over the Lakers in the championship game of the 2012 CHA Tournament at the RMU Island Sports Center.
In 2010, the football team earned the NEC’s inaugural bid to the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs, the 12th straight year a program from Robert Morris earned an automatic bid in an NCAA Tournament. In addition, 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).
Overall in Coleman’s 12 years as director of athletics at Robert Morris, programs have claimed a total of 22 regular-season championships and earned 15 automatic berths to the NCAA Tournament.
RMU’s exploits academically during Coleman’s tenure have been just as impressive.
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 Team, the most in school history. RMU also earned the NEC Institutional Academic Award in both 2012 and 2014.
Coleman oversaw the development of a new Robert Morris athletics logo and mascot as well as the launching of the official website of RMU athletics at www.RMUColonials.com.
Nine head coaches have been hired by Coleman, including a pair of men’s basketball head coaches (Mike Rice and Andrew Toole) and two in women’s rowing (Midge McPhail and Nelle Stahura). Also hired by Coleman are Dale Starr (volleyball), Paul Colontino (women’s ice hockey) and Caitlin Cotter (cross country and track & field).
All the while, Coleman has built a winning softball program at Robert Morris over the past 27 years. During that period, RMU has won eight NEC regular-season championships and six NEC Tournament titles.
In 2014, Coleman won his 600th career game when the Colonials earned a 10-0 victory in six innings in the first game of a doubleheader split at Mount St. Mary’s on April 6.
Prior to his arrival as head coach in 1991, the Colonials posted just 19 victories in the previous three seasons. During his 27 years as head coach, the Colonials have posted an overall record of 674-611-5 (.524), including a record of 294-125-2 (.701) 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 NEC 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 18 Capital One District II Academic All-Americans, six NEC Scholar-Athletes of the Year for softball and numerous NEC Academic Honor Roll selections.
In the spring of 2011, former Colonial Annie Dubovec (2008-11) 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).
Under Coleman’s watch, the Colonials finished in the top five in Division I in team GPA six consecutive years from 2009 to 2014 according to the NFCA, including the top mark in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Overall, Robert Morris has finished in the top five of team GPA a total of seven times since the 1999-2000 academic year.
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. He is a native of Philadelphia, Pa.