Select Page

by Matt Kupec

April 11, 2020

The college football world recently lost one of its former head football coaches with the news that Frank Maloney – a former Syracuse coach and Michigan lineman -— died at his home in Chicago, Illinois. Coach Maloney was 79 years old.

I hardly knew Coach Maloney but he is somebody I will never forget.  I met him at a critical time in my life when I was a senior in high school in the middle of an intense recruiting battle for my services as a student-athlete as New York’s Football Player of the Year.

About Coach Maloney:

  • He played center and guard at Michigan from 1959-61.
  • He was an assistant football coach at Michigan from 1968-73, mostly under Bo Schemblecher.
  • At age 32 he was hired by Syracuse to be head coach. The Orangemen went 32-46 in his six seasons
  • In 1979, Syracuse went 7-5 played all of its games on the road because of construction of the Carrier Dome.
  • Coach Maloney mentored 19 future NFL draft picks including Joe Morris and Art Monk.

Meeting Coach Maloney as a College Football Head Coach

Coach Maloney had just finished his first season as the Syracuse Head Football Coaching job going 2-9 in his inaugural season.  I was the New York State Play of the Year as a quarterback after leading  my Syosset High School team to an undefeated season and #1 ranking in the state .

One of Coach Maloney’s primary tasks was to focus on scouring the state of New York to keep the top New York high school football players in state.  I was a prime recruiting target by Syracuse and Coach Maloney.

At the time Syracuse was really the only major college football option in New York.  But the program was struggling and it had been a long time since the Orangeman had enjoyed any success.  Syracuse was playing its home games in Archbold Stadium, a deteriorating facility that would be replaced by an new indoor stadium, the Carrier Dome, some five years later.

Despite being heavily recruited by Coach Maloney, I turned Syracuse down early and did not have them in my final five choices.   I tried to be nice but Syracuse just wasn’t a good option for school for me at that time.

But Coach Maloney was relentless.  Even after telling him no, he kept coming back to my high school week after week.  It even got so bad that I remember hiding under a bench near the athletic office to avoid Coach Maloney on one his last trips to my high school.

I really admired Coach Maloney for his tenacity and relentless pursuit of me on the recruiting trail even after I had said no.  It was a lesson of keep pushing that has helped shaped me in the business world.

Change of Careers

The other thing that impressed me about Coach Maloney – and I hadn’t realized this until his passing – was that he left the college coaching scene immediately after being fired by Syracuse to pursue a career in another field. That was an eye-opening revelation.

At the tender age of thirty-nine, Coach Maloney could have easily been hired by a number of schools as a coordinator or position coach.  But he chose to leave college football altogether and make a change in his life.  Maybe the hassles of recruiting, the demands on his time or he was fed up coaching led him to make the career change.  Maybe he simply wanted a change of pace.

Coach Maloney moved back to Chicago and was hired by the Chicago Cubs where he became the director of ticketing for twenty-seven years before retiring from the Cubs organization.

In one article, former great QB Bill Hurley who played for Coach Maloney for four years was quoted as saying he talked to Coach Maloney regularly after he left coaching.  Good for Coach to keep those relationships with his players well beyond his coaching years.

Rest in peace Coach Maloney.  You made an impact on so many other student-athletes over the years.  I am sure you had the same impact on the people you worked with in the Cubs organization.  You made a difference in this world and you will forever be remembered.  I will always remember you.

About the Author

Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed four major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit. He is currently serving as Senior In-House Fundraising Counsel for Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, leading SIU’s recently extended campaign with an increased goal from $75 million to $200 million.

Matt is a former record-breaking four year starting quarterback for the UNC Tar Heels. During his career he set 19 season and career passing records. Two of which still stand — most consecutive games with a TD pass and most wins as a starting QB. Matt also set the ACC record for TD passes his senior year at UNC. Matt was named MVP of the 1977 Liberty Bowl and the 1979 Gator Bowl becoming the 1st player in Atlantic Coast Conference history to be named MVP of two bowl games.