December 13, 2011

Austin Declines CFL Head Coach Offer

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In the wake of increased speculation about his interest in pursuing another head coaching opportunity, Kent Austin released a statement Tuesday night announcing that he has no intention of leaving his position at the helm of Cornell football.

“My family and I are happy at Cornell and enjoy the challenge of rebuilding this program,” he said. “I’ve turned down several offers from various football programs since my arrival at Cornell and am appreciative of those who have recognized what my staff and I have already done in a short time here.”

On Saturday, Athletic Director Andy Noel confirmed that the Canadian Football League’s Saskatchewan Roughriders — a squad that employed Austin as its head coach in 2007 — requested permission to speak with Austin about its coaching vacancy. The Hamilton Tiger Cats were also interested, but did not reach out to Cornell, Noel said.

Questions about Austin’s interest in pursuing other opportunities first surfaced after a Dec. 7 Montreal Gazette report claimed that the University granted Saskatchewan permission to talk to the Cornell head coach.  The Roughriders would likely have to make Austin the highest paid coach in the CFL — paying him a salary in excess of $500,000 — in order to lure him away from Cornell, The Gazette said.

After leading the Red to a 5-5 finish in 2011, Austin believes he still has plenty of unfinished business to complete in his tenure on East Hill.

“We’re working hard in the offseason to continue to recruit top-notch student-athletes to help us toward our goal of an Ivy League title,” he said.

Austin recently completed his second season at Cornell after serving two years as the offensive coordinator at his alma matter, Ole Miss, where he played quarterback from 1982-85. While Austin was drafted by the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals out of college, he made a name for himself in the CFL as a two-time Grey Cup winner — claiming MVP honors with the Roughriders in the 1989 title game.

Austin’s CFL success continued when he took over as head coach at Saskatchewan in 2007, winning the Grey Cup in his only season with the team before moving on to Ole Miss.

At Cornell, Austin’s squad bounced back in 2011 after finishing 2-8 in his inaugural campaign to finish at .500 for the first time since 2007. With Austin’s guidance, sophomore quarterback Jeff Mathews surpassed program and Ivy League passing records en route to earning the Bushnell Cup as the Ancient Eight’s offensive MVP.

The Red returns 10-of-11 starters on offense for 2012 with Austin set to begin his third season on the sidelines at Schoellkopf Field. Cornell starts the year on the road in a Sept. 15 matchup at Fordham before returning to Ithaca for a Homecoming bout with Yale.

Original Author: Evan Rich