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Longtime Cornell Coach Bob Cullen Dead at 85

September 23, 1996

ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) _ Robert L. Cullen, a member of the Cornell University athletic department for more than a half-century, died at home Sunday night of natural causes. He was 85.

Although he officially retired in 1979, Cullen coached the school’s lightweight football team with his oldest son, Terry, until his death.

Cullen, a native of Palmyra, N.Y., graduated from Hobart College in 1937 with majors in chemistry and biology. While working on his master’s degree at Syracuse University, he also played amateur and semiprofessional baseball. He later taught science and coached three sports at Fayetteville High School in Syracuse before going to Cornell in 1943.

Cullen coached three levels of football for the Big Red _ varsity, junior varsity, and the lightweights, which he revived after World War II. He also coached lacrosse, junior varsity basketball and women’s squash.

In 22 years as head coach of the lightweight team, he compiled a 75-49-5 record. The Big Red won the Eastern Lightweight Football League title outright in 1978 with a 5-0 record and shared the title in 1975. The league championship trophy is named in his honor.

With lightweight football, Cullen’s philosophy was simple: ``We don’t cut anyone,″ he said. ``The thing is participation. If a kid comes out, we accept him. We give him the chance to play college ball.″

Cullen also made Cornell lacrosse a highly competitive program on the national level through recruiting, a formal fall season program, and a winter box lacrosse program.

He is survived by his wife, Ursula, and six children. A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, in Ithaca.

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