Coen calls it a career
Longtime coach says he’s been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Longtime Lehigh head football coach Andy Coen resigned Friday, citing health reasons,
“Life has thrown me a curveball . ... It is best for me to eliminate stress and concentrate on my health.” — Andy Coen
Entering the annual rivalry game against Lafayette last month, several Lehigh football players talked about wanting to win, not only for themselves, but also for coach Andy Coen.
Coen needed one more victory to tie Bill Leckonby for the most wins in program history.
Lehigh came through with a 34-3 victory at Fisher Stadum.
Coen, 54, a two-time Patriot League coach of the year, resigned as Lehigh's football coach on Friday, ending a run that included 85 victories and five league titles.
In a release issued by the school, Coen has “elected to step away to spend more time with his family and address a health issue.” He steps away at this time following a diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease.
His decision will sadden many close to the program who respected Coen's down-to-earth style and the way he put his players first through good times and bad.
“Life has thrown me a curveball,” Coen said in the release. “I am in the early stages and it is best for me to eliminate stress and concentrate on my health and well-being. It is an opportunity for me to spend more time with my family. Coaching is a 24/7 job and does not allow a lot of time for family. My wife, Laura, and my children, Molly, Nolan and Finn have supported me throughout my career and are my biggest fans. This is a very difficult decision for all of us, but it is what is best at this time.”
In 13 seasons, Coen coached 135 All-Patriot League selections, six Patriot League major award winners, 25 AllAmerica selections, 10 CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees, two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 236 Patriot League Academic Honor Roll selections.
“More than his success on the field, Andy has always recognized the importance of his role as an educator and developer of young men,” Lehigh athletic director Joe Sterrett said. “He is deeply respected by the men who played for him and those who worked with or for him, and by his many colleagues in the Lehigh Athletics Department. He will always have our gratitude, friendship and support.”
Fittingly, Coen's final game and victory as Lehigh's coach came against Lafayette on Nov. 17. Coen went 9-4 in 13 meetings with the Leopards, highlighted by a 2017 win that clinched Lehigh's 12th Patriot League crown and an overtime win in 2009 that denied the Leopards a share of the league title. Of the 11 classes in school history to go 4-0 over their careers against Lafayette, three (2012, 2013 and 2019) did so under Coen's guidance.
“Today is one of the toughest days in my coaching career that spans 30-plus years,” Coen said. “I never thought that when I took a job as an intern at Widener in 1986, that I would be making this a profession.
“I've truly been blessed over the years to have coached at great schools where I was able to hone my skills and my passion for coaching. I worked hard and was rewarded for my knowledge and abilities as I worked up the coaching ladder. Becoming a head coach was always a dream and to be here at Lehigh for the past 13 seasons, I was truly ‘living the dream.'”
Lehigh said that longtime defensive line and assistant head coach Donnie Roberts, who left coaching at Allentown Central Catholic to join Coen's first staff in January 2006, will guide the program through a transitional phase.
The release also said that the Lehigh Athletics Department will immediately launch a search for a successor.
Lehigh football coach Andy Coen has stepped down after 13 seasons. He finishes with a 85-64 record at Lehigh and tied Bill Leckonby for the most victories in Mountain Hawks history. He was 9-4 against Lafayette.