Jerry Schmitt Named Head Football Coach
Duquesne University President Dr. Charles Dougherty and Director of Athletics Brian Colleary announced today that Jerry Schmitt has been named head football coach of the Dukes. Schmitt, who served as an assistant at Duquesne from 1985-87 and 1992-99, returns to campus after spending the last five seasons as head coach at his alma mater, Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pa.
"Jerry's expertise and demonstrated leadership abilities will accelerate the positive momentum of Duquesne's football program," said Dougherty. "I have confidence that he will lead the team well, enhancing its solid track record."
In his 11 seasons at Duquesne, Schmitt helped the Dukes to their first three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships in 1995, 1996 & 1999 and the school's first East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) Bowl game in 1996. The 44-year-old Pittsburgh native, who served under three different head coaches in Terry Russell (1985-86), Dan McCann (1992) and Greg Gattuso (1993-99), was the offensive coordinator for his last seven seasons on the Bluff, during which the Dukes posted a 53-21 record and won three titles. He was promoted to assistant head coach by Gattuso prior to the 1994 season. Schmitt accepted the head coaching position at Westminster in March of 2000.
"Jerry is a good fit for Duquesne," said Colleary. "As an assistant he played an integral role in the development of our program. He was with us when we made the move from Division III to I-AA and was also the offensive coordinator for our first three conference championship teams. I look for him to continue to build on the solid foundation that has been established."
"My family and I are grateful to Dr. Dougherty and Brian for the opportunity to coach at Duquesne," said Schmitt. "Some of my fondest memories as a coach came on Rooney Field. It is an honor to come back to a program that has an established winning tradition. I'm looking foward to getting started."
While at Westminster, Schmitt posted a 28-21 record in overseeing the Titans' transition from NCAA Division II to the Division III level. He led Westminster to an 8-2 mark including a perfect 5-0 record against teams from the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) in 2000. After a rebuilding campaign in 2001, Westminster continued to make strides under Schmitt's leadership in 2002, as the Titans finished 6-4 overall (4-1 in league play) and placed second in their first season of eligibility for the PAC title. In 2003, Westminster overcame a challenging non-conference schedule against scholarship teams to contend for the conference title in the final week of the season. Last year, the Titans rallied from an 0-2 start to post wins in five of their last eight games.
Prior to his first stop at Duquesne, Schmitt established himself at the high school level in western Pennsylvania where he served as head coach at South Fayette High School (1990-91), offensive and defensive line coach at Bethel Park High School (1989), offensive and defensive line coach at Avonworth High School (1988), and offensive and defensive line coach and junior varsity head coach at West Allegheny High School (1983-84).
In addition to his football coaching background, Schmitt served as head girls basketball coach at Beaver Area High School from 1987-99 and has also served as head track & field coach at West Allegheny High School (1984) and Weirton (W.Va.) Madonna High School (1983). Prior to returning to Westminster, Schmitt worked full time as a teacher in the Beaver Area school district from 1987-99.
A 1983 Westminster graduate, Schmitt was a three-year letterman and two-year starter on the offensive line under head coach Joe Fusco, leading the Titans to an undefeated regular season as a senior in 1981.
Schmitt, who graduated from Pittsburgh's Keystone Oaks High School in 1978, and his wife, Paula, reside in Cranberry Township. Paula is an assistant principal in the Pine-Richland school district. The couple had their first child, Matthew Jake, on October 2, 2002.
Schmitt is the 19th head coach in the 78 recorded seasons of Duquesne football.
Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 10,000 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.