Cornelius Coleman


When Waynesburg University started its search for a new football coach, little did the administration realize he was already a member of the university staff.

Dr. Cornelius Coleman had recently accepted the position of Assistant Provost for Undergraduate Learning Experiences that summer.

“It (the football opening) was brought to my attention,” said Coleman. “Things kind of manifested. We sat down with the leadership council and other members at the university. So it was a perfect fit.”

It didn’t hurt that Coleman was an alum, earning his undergraduate degree in 2000 and postgraduate degree in 2003. He had also had ties with Jerry Schmidt at Duquesne and John Banaszak when he coached at Robert Morris. Banaszak was influential in Colemen’s return to Western Pennsylvania from Averett University in Danville, Va.

“God works in mysterious ways,” Coleman said.

Coleman says he realizes people will judge him the way Jim Harbaugh and his players are judged in Michigan: against their heated rival. In Harbaugh’s case, it’s Ohio State. In Coleman’s case, it’s Washington & Jefferson.

“It’s part of the game. It’s the nature of the game,” Coleman said. “That’s why we get into it.”

The 43-year-old Coleman comes to Waynesburg following two years at NCAA Division I FCS member Duquesne, where he served as the Dukes’ defensive line coach. This past season, Duquesne went 7-3 and won its final three games.

The Dukes also made school history when they defeated Ohio University, 28-26, on Sept. 11, giving the program its first win over a current NCAA Division I FBS opponent.

During the abbreviated 2020-21 season, Duquesne went 4-1, with its only loss coming in overtime in the NEC title game.

Prior to signing on at Duquesne, Coleman spent one season at the University of Pittsburgh, where he worked as a Defensive Quality Control Coach for the Panthers. Before arriving at Pitt, Coleman spent four years at nearby NCAA Division I FCS member Robert Morris, where he again was charged with overseeing the team’s defensive linemen. Under his tutelage, multiple RMU defensive linemen earned All-NEC recognition.

During his time at Robert Morris, Coleman was given the opportunity to work for the Pittsburgh Steelers during their 2017 training camp as a coaching assistant working with the defensive line. He earned this prestigious position through the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship.

Prior to joining the staff at RMU, Coleman served as assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator at Averett University for seven seasons. During that time, he worked with the defensive line and linebackers.

In 2009 and 2010, Averett led the league in turnover margin. The Cougars ranked sixth nationally in turnover margin in 2009, an accomplishment that helped three linebackers earn all-conference honors.

Coleman began his journey in collegiate coaching and academics following four years at Waynesburg University, where he was a four-year letterman. During his senior campaign of 1999, he was not only named first-team All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference, but also honorable mention All-American after leading the Yellow Jackets in sacks and tackles for loss.

After graduating from Waynesburg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication in 2000, Coleman went on to compete professionally. He led the Dayton Skyhawks of the Indoor Football League in sacks and tackles for loss, while starting all 18 games with the squad in 2000. He also started 10 games for the Roanoke Steam of the Arena Football League in 2002, for whom he played both defensive end and tight end.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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