|Previous College:||Carnegie Mellon, '79|
|Overall Record:||216-118-2 (33)|
|Record at CMU:||216-118-2 (33)|
During the past four decades, Carnegie Mellon University has fielded one of the most successful football programs in NCAA Division III. It is no coincidence that Rich Lackner’s association with the Tartans’ program has spanned that same period.
In May 2003, Lackner was inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Hall of Fame. He was also awarded the Bob Prince Award during the Catholic Youth Organization’s 29th annual dinner.
Named head coach in 1986, Lackner has directed the Tartans to a 216-118-2 (.646) record, 12 conference championships and two NCAA playoff berths. Lackner passed Walter Steffen as the University’s all-time winningest coach, on September 19, 1998, as the Tartans defeated Bethany College, 38-7.
On October 22, 2016, Lackner became the 79th football coach in NCAA history to amass 200 wins following a 49-33 victory over Thiel College. Lackner is one of 16 active head coaches among all divisions with 200 career victories, and he is fourth among active Division III head coaches in total career wins. He was the 34th coach ever to win all 200 games at the same institution, and just the 11th to do so at the Division III level.
Carnegie Mellon has risen to unprecedented prominence in the University Athletic Association (UAA) under Lackner. The Tartans own 11 UAA titles and have an impressive conference record of 57-35 (.620). Lackner has been named the UAA Coach of the Year seven times, in 1990, ‘91, ‘93, ‘97, ‘06, '15 and most recently in 2018. Lackner’s most productive season was in 2006, when he led the Tartans to an 11-1 season, the most wins in school history and their sixth appearance in the NCAA playoffs. He was also named All-South Region Coach of the Year by D3football.com in 2006.
From 1986-89 Carnegie Mellon was part of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) under Lackner and compiled a conference mark of 13-8-1 (.643) including being named co-champions in 1989. The Tartans left the PAC following their conference champion run to become full members of the UAA in football. Carnegie Mellon rejoined the PAC for the start of the 2014 season and since rejoining the PAC, Lackner has compiled a mark of 25-16 (.610).
Lackner’s ties to Carnegie Mellon football date back much further than his head coaching tenure; he was an assistant coach from 1979-85 and was a standout linebacker for the Tartans from 1975-78. From the time he first stepped onto Carnegie Mellon’s campus as a freshman, Lackner was a part of 35 consecutive non-losing seasons (1975-2009), 15 conference championships, six NCAA playoff appearances, five Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Bowls with three championships and a 298-136-4 (.683) record from 1975-2018.
On November 5, 2011, Lackner coached the Tartans to the 500th win in program history when Carnegie Mellon defeated Chicago 28-13 in the Windy City. The milestone win marked many Lackner has been a part of, including the team’s 300th and 400th victories that happened in 1982 and 1996, respectively.
Throughout his time at Carnegie Mellon, Lackner has played with or coached 56 Academic All-Americans, ranking tops in Division III and fifth in all of collegiate football.
As a student, football player and coach, Carnegie Mellon has always been the right place for Lackner.
“I think a person is always inclined to stay at a place where the situation is a good one,” Lackner says. “That’s been the case with Carnegie Mellon and myself. This is an outstanding academic institution so I knew I’d get a good education. We also have a great football tradition here. The program is able to attract quality kids who are bright and enthusiastic and fantastic to coach.”
Lackner himself had an exceptional athletic and academic career at Carnegie Mellon. A four-year starter at linebacker, he was a three-time All-PAC pick as well as the PAC’s 1976 Defensive Player-of-the-Year. In 1978, Lackner was named to the Pittsburgh Press All-District Team and received a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Dapper Dan Award. Also a model student, he was twice named an Academic All-American.
During his playing career, Carnegie Mellon had a four-year mark of 28-7-1 and won PAC titles in 1977 and 1978. The Tartans advanced to the NCAA Playoffs in 1978, marking their first postseason appearance since the 1939 Sugar Bowl.
Following his 1979 graduation with a bachelor’s degree in history, Lackner remained with head coach Chuck Klausing as an assistant coach. Seven years later, Lackner was named head coach when Klausing left to join Mike Gottfried’s staff at the University of Pittsburgh.
A Pittsburgh native, Lackner graduated with honors from Mt. Lebanon High School, one of Pennsylvania’s perennial football powers. As a senior, he led Mt. Lebanon to the WPIAL Class AAA title game with a 9-2 record. In the fall of 2013, Lackner was honored with the Mt. Lebanon High School Great Alumni Award.
Lackner has two children, Nick, who is a graduate of John Carroll University and holds a MSc Degree from Columbia University and Kimberly, who is a 2005 graduate of Carnegie Mellon and earned her master’s in history education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008.
“Since taking over for Coach Klausing in 1986, I have had the privilege to coach an incredible group of talented student/athletes. It is truly rewarding to know that my coaches and I have been a part of their growth and development as young men. I’m confident that their experiences within the football program served them well in both their personnel and professional lives.”