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  • Rock Hoffman


Coach Accorsi leaves Rowan after 31 seasons on the campus in Glassboro, NJ – the last 22 as head coach. Photo courtesy of Rowan University Athletics.   

Rowan University head football Jay Accorsi has called it a career. After 31 seasons on the campus in Glassboro, NJ – the last 22 as head coach – Accorsi leaves as the longest-tenured head coach in program history and its winningest. 

He compiled a record of 143-78 overall and a mark of 103-54 in New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play. His teams won seven conference championships, made seven appearances in the NCAA Division III Playoffs, and twice advanced to the national semifinals (2004 and 2005). 

Five times Accorsi, 60, was named the NJAC Coach of the Year and in 2005 he earned the

Tri-State Coach of the Year Award from Maxwell Football Club.

While Accorsi’s retirement may have been a shock to most, it was something he’d been mulling over for a while.

"My family and I have talked about it the last couple of years," said Accorsi, who, with his wife Nancy, are parents to three children. “As my wife and I have gotten older, and made future plans, we included our kids in the decision because they’ve been such an integral part of our time here. They grew up on this campus. It’s emotional for all of us.

“We decided midway through the fall and all three kids were at our last home game, which we won (24-14 over William Paterson), which was awesome. Nobody knew so then I had to figure out the best way to do it and how to do it.

“So, it was an effort by not just me but my wife and three kids to decide how to leave a part of all of our lives that had been so important.”

“Jay Accorsi has led Rowan Football with great integrity for the last 22 years,” said Rowan director of athletics Dr. John Giannini in a press release. “He emphasized character and academics, holding student-athletes accountable and caring for them in a way that positively affected hundreds of lives. He always worked at having his teams represent Rowan in a first-class manner,"

It was important to Accorsi that he announced his retirement when and how he did.

“I was able to keep it under wraps from everybody,” he told FootballStories during a phone conversation less than a week after the April 12th notification. “I told the team after our last spring practice. Not very often in your lifetime do you get to do something how you want to do it, especially in this profession. It’s always about the players, the coaches, the administration, and the school. 

"Selfishly, I just wanted to go how I wanted to go, I thought I, at least, earned that part of it. I’m the coach one day, the next day I’m not then I support whoever is. That's just who I am. I just thought this was the best way to do it quick, fast, and out. I think I was able to pull it off and surprise a lot of people."

In his retirement, Accorsi hopes to emulate the man he called ‘the’ coach at Rowan – Richard Wackar. The stadium the Profs play at is named for Wackar, a legend at school who won NJAC titles as a coach in four different sports (football, basketball, cross country, and golf).

“I was struck by how people talked about him when he wasn’t there,” said Accorsi, who knew Wackar since 1993 when he came to Rowan as a graduate assistant, “and the smile they had when they referred to him. He had the innate ability to relate to people and help. If I could be anything like that, it would mean the world to me.”

One of Accorsi’s goals when he stepped away from his job was that the program be in good shape, and he feels that he accomplished that mission.

“I’m going to try and help whoever the next coach is but I’m not going to bother, I’m not going to be around but I’m going to selfishly sneak to see this team play. This is a really good team, it could be, on paper, one of the best teams since I’ve been head coach. I feel really good where the program is.”

Of course, he’ll miss being the head coach too.

“That’s what I’ll miss the most,” he said, “is the day-to-day interaction with young college students and our football players. My Grandfather always said, 'You are who you hang with,' and I've been able to be a college kid for a lot of years because that's who I hang with every day. 

"My hope is that the players know that I always cared more about them as people than I did as football players.” *

Email Rock Hoffman at rock at

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