Sun File Photo/James Leynse '89

Maxie Baughan, former Cornell head football coach pictured in 1988 after winning the Ivy League championship, died on Aug. 19 at age 85.

August 28, 2023

Distinguished Cornell Football Coach Maxie Baughan Dead at 85

Print More

Maxie Baughan, former head coach of Cornell’s football team from 1983 to 1988 and National Football League linebacker, died of natural causes on Aug. 19 in Ithaca. He was 85 years old.

Baughan was born on Aug. 3, 1938 in Forkland, Alabama and played football for Bessemer High School before attending and playing for Georgia Tech. During his senior season there, he was named the 1959 Southeastern Conference Lineman of the Year and was eventually inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Upon graduating from college, Baughan was selected 20th overall in the 1960 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, where he immediately became a starter and won an NFL championship in his first year. Following his fifth season with the Eagles, Baughan began playing for the Los Angeles Rams and was named their defensive captain, where he remained until 1970, when he retired due to an injury. But in 1974, he served as a player-coach for the team formerly known as the Washington Redskins, appearing in two games before officially retiring.

Baughan was selected to the Pro Bowl nine times, inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles’ Hall of Fame in 2015 and was recently announced as a semifinalist for the 2024 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.

Following his retirement, Baughan served as defensive coordinator for Georgia Tech before returning to the NFL as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Colts and Detroit Lions.

Baughan was then hired as Cornell’s head coach in 1983, and following a title drought of over a decade, Baughan secured an Ivy championship for Cornell in 1988. 

However, Baughan’s tenure as Cornell’s coach did not last for much longer due to his affair with Cathy Noyes, the wife of assistant coach Peter Noyes. Following the exposure of the affair, Noyes took a paid leave of absence for seven weeks before pressure from the team’s players forced Baughan to resign in 1989.

“I have become convinced that it is in the best interests of all concerned that I step down,” Baughan wrote in his letter of resignation.

After his stint at Cornell, Baughan served as linebackers coach for the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 1998.

Baughan is survived by his wife Dianne, and his three sons — including head men’s golf coach Matt Baughan — and eight grandchildren.

Nia Perry ’25 is a Sun contributor. She can be reached at [email protected].