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Carm Cozza to Retire at End of 32nd Season

September 7, 1996

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Carm Cozza, who has nearly half his life as the football coach for Yale, confirmed Saturday that he will step down after this season, his 32nd.

With all senior team members gathered around him, Cozza was emotional but managed to display his wit while reflecting on his coaching era during a news conference at the field house.

``I haven’t had Labor Day off in 32 years. I’m going to find out if there’s life after football,″ Cozza said.

Cozza, 66, will coach his last game Nov. 23 at Harvard, the annual season-ending rivalry for the two schools that dates back to 1875 and is known as ``The Game.″

He will continue to work at Yale as an assistant to athletic director Tom Beckett, taking on special projects, including continuing his efforts to improve facilities.

``I’m going to miss every Saturday,″ Cozza said.

But he’ll miss his players most of all.

``Everyone talks about what I have done for the players. What you don’t know is what they’ve done for me,″ he said. ``It’s really like having two families.″

Cozza has guided Yale to 10 Ivy League titles, and is the winningest coach in the school’s history with his 117-111-5 record. But his tenure has not been without its tough times, especially in recent years. The Elis have not had a winning season since 1991, and the school newspaper pushed for his retirement two years ago.

``There are many peaks and valleys when you stay at an institution for so many years,″ Cozza said. ``I can honestly say that at times, despite disgruntled alumni and administrators, we lived through it and enjoyed the experience.″

Cozza said it wasn’t always easy keeping alumni happy, but joked that ``if need be, I let them beat me at golf a couple times.″

In a word, Cozza said, his greatest accomplishment has been ``survival.″ Forty different coaches have worked in the Ivy League while Cozza has been at Yale.

``Carm Cozza is the Ivy League,″ said Pennsylvania coach Al Bagnoli. ``That’s it in a nutshell.″

Cozza had informed his players of his plans in an emotional speech before practice Thursday. He said it was extremely difficult.

``Life goes on and I want to believe we’ll both be better for having known each other,″ Cozza said, adding that one of his proudest accomplishments was the graduation rate of players during his reign. Less than 10 haven’t.

Team captain Rob Masella said Cozza’s retirement will serve as an inspiration to capture an Ivy League title for the first time since 1989. He said the players have talked about winning the championship in Cozza’s honor.

Yale administrators plan to immediately form a search committee, which will include faculty, staff, alumni and students. The school hopes to name a successor by January.

Other Ivy League coaches said Cozza will be hard to replace.

``When you think of Ivy League football, it’s only natural to think of Carm Cozza,″ said Dartmouth coach John Lyons. ``He is a gentleman, a quality football coach and a truly genuine person. He epitomizes not only Yale football, but the Ivy League as well.″

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