Ben Parker/Sun File Photo

Mike Schafer '86 will seek his first national championship in 2024-25 in what will be his final season behind the bench for Cornell.

June 22, 2024

Mike Schafer ’86 to Retire After 2024-25 Season; Casey Jones ’90 to Assume His Position

Print More

After 30 years at the helm, men’s hockey head coach Mike Schafer ’86 will finish his run at Cornell with the 2024-25 season.

The Cornell alumnus turned head coach announced his predetermined retirement on June 13, along with the news of a successor — Casey Jones ’90 — set to take over the program following Schafer’s departure.

Jones, the previous head coach of ECAC rival Clarkson, will serve as the associate head coach in 2024-25 and will be transitioned into the head coaching position following the conclusion of the season. 

The news was first announced by Cornell Athletics via an article by Jeremy Hartigan, senior associate director of athletics for communications, in the Cornell Chronicle. The press release includes quotes from Director of Athletics and Physical Education Nicki Moore, Schafer and Jones. 

“It’s been a tremendous experience helping the players and teams over the years to reach their goals while helping create Big Red pride and building spirit through Cornell hockey,” Schafer told the Chronicle. “I feel now is the perfect time for me to begin the transition into retirement.”

Moore told the Chronicle that Schafer “considered retirement” after the 2023-24 season, but ultimately opted for one final season behind the bench. 

“Nicki [Moore] came up with this idea and it just totally made sense,” Schafer said in a video interview with Cornell Athletics. “Casey [Jones] already knows a lot of the stuff that we’re doing. It’ll be great for him to develop those relationships with our athletes and keep the continuity going with recruiting. There’s so many factors that go into [the decision] that will make the transition seamless.”

Jones, a former Cornell captain, will join the Red’s coaching staff after a 13-year tenure behind the bench at Clarkson. Jones led the Golden Knights to two NCAA Tournament appearances and a Whitelaw Cup. Jones previously served as an assistant coach on the Hill from 1991-1993 and from 2008-2011, the latter stint as an associate head coach under Schafer.

“[Jones and I] share so many values,” Schafer said. “He knows that Cornell is built on playing a team game with no egos and he knows we have to develop talent here.”

Jones’ ties to Ithaca are deeply rooted — a four-year letterwinner, Jones played three seasons with Doug Derraugh ’91, who now serves as head coach for the Red women’s hockey program. 

“This is a really exciting moment for myself and my family — returning to my alma mater, the place where I met my wife and where I spent the best four years of my life,” Jones told the Chronicle. “Mike is a great friend and someone I have unlimited respect for, and I’m excited to celebrate what he has helped build before accepting the challenge of leading Big Red hockey into the future.”

In 2024-25, Schafer will enter his 30th year as head coach with an impressive resume — cementing his status as not only a legendary Cornell coach but one of the best all-time in college hockey.

Securing six Whitelaw Cups, 14 NCAA Tournament berths and a Frozen Four appearance and developing multiple NHL prospects and All-Americans, Schafer will leave an undeniable legacy.

The Durham, Ontario native spent his undergraduate years as a student-athlete at Cornell, assumed an assistant coaching position for the Red immediately after his 1986 graduation and returned to Cornell from Western Michigan to serve as head coach in the summer of 1995.

“[Cornell] has basically been my whole life,” Schafer said.

After graduating just two seniors in 2024 and returning the majority of his team, Schafer will look to contend for a national championship in his final season. 

The 10 seniors comprising the 2024-25 team will be the first class in years that have played four years of uninterrupted NCAA hockey. None of them experienced the heartbreak of having the 2019-20 season cut short. Only three — senior forwards Jack O’Leary and Kyle Penney and senior defenseman Tim Rego —  felt the pain of the 2020-21 season being taken away in its entirety. 
“I look forward to seeing the unmatched tradition of Cornell hockey continue throughout the years to come,” Schafer wrote in the June 13 press release. “But for now, I am focused on the work to be done this coming year.”