Back when he was a member of IUP’s famed 1968 Boardwalk Bowl football team, Bob LaCivita ’71 thought he might never again be part of a team as legendary as that one.
It turns out he was quite wrong.
Bob LaCivita is director of player personnel for the BCS national champion Florida State Seminoles. Courtesy Florida State Athletics
When the Florida State Seminoles edged the Auburn Tigers in a thrilling BCS National Championship game in January at the Rose Bowl, LaCivita felt the kind of satisfaction that comes only when hard work pays off.
“It was really nice to be able to reap the rewards from all the hard work,” he said. “The game itself was surreal. I had never before been in an environment that electric. The outcome made it spectacular, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
More than four decades after he graduated from IUP, LaCivita is still very much involved in football. He has had a long and distinguished career as a member of the supporting cast of some of the best college football programs in the land. In his current job, he is the director of player personnel at Florida State University, in Tallahassee, where he is responsible for organizing all of the details related to recruiting players, as well as the day-to-day operations of the football office.
“I manage the whole process of Florida State football, under the watchful eye of the head coach [Jimbo Fisher],” LaCivita said.
LaCivita’s fingerprints are all over the Seminoles’ national championship trophy, thanks to his work helping to recruit the players who made the undefeated season possible. Now in his seventh year on the job, LaCivita has been there as Fisher has kept the Seminoles’ winning tradition alive after the retirement of legendary coach Bobby Bowden.
And not long after the Seminoles won the national championship, the team made headlines again, and LaCivita had a role in that, too. On February 5, the first day that high school players could sign letters of intent to play college football, LaCivita coordinated the efforts as Florida State put together a class of recruits rated by ESPN as the third best in the nation.
“It’s satisfying watching the progress of our young men,” LaCivita said. “You put in a lot of hours, and to achieve a goal like that shows how all the hard work paid off.”
LaCivita has come a long way since he left the IUP campus back in 1971. He has had jobs at several universities working in football administration, something that hadn’t really been invented when LaCivita first joined the work force.
In the classroom at IUP, LaCivita prepared himself for a career in the academic world. He used football as a tool to get an education and thought he would leave the sport behind. Instead, football and education became intertwined, and 40-some years later, LaCivita has reached the top of the college football mountain.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “I’ve been blessed by God to have a great family and to work with outstanding people. I’ve been very fortunate. But it all goes back to getting my degree and being able to go from there.”
No matter where LaCivita has gone, he has always kept tabs on his alma mater. At one of his previous stops, North Carolina State University, he worked alongside Curt Cignetti, the program’s wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. LaCivita said he was excited when he learned Cignetti was hired as IUP’s head coach in January 2011, and he knows the program is in great hands.
“My family is close with his family,” LaCivita said, “so I have taken a special interest in what has happened in Indiana and at IUP. They’ve got the right guy there. He’s done a great job so far.”
An assistant football coach at IUP in 1996 and 1997, Paul Darragh was named the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East Division Coach of the Year after guiding Bloomsburg to a division title, conference championship, and NCAA Division II playoff berth. Even better, Darragh had the interim tag removed from his job title after the season and was named the program’s full-time head coach.
Ben McAdoo, right, pictured with Aaron Rodgers, went from quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers to offensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Courtesy Matt Becker / Green Bay Packers
In the NFL, two IUP graduates were on the move in the offseason, when Ben McAdoo ’00 was hired as the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator and Jim Hostler ’90 was chosen as the Buffalo Bills’ senior offensive assistant. Most recently, McAdoo was the Green Bay Packers’ quarterbacks coach, and Hostler was the Baltimore Ravens’ wide receivers coach. Both have earned Super Bowl rings in the last few years: McAdoo in 2011, and Hostler in 2013.
Also, two former IUP assistant coaches, Luke Getsy and Nick Sirianni, were hired by NFL teams. Getsy, who was IUP’s offensive coordinator in 2011 and 2012, was named an offensive quality control coach for the Packers, and Sirianni, the Crimson Hawks’ wide receivers coach from 2006 to 2008, was named the San Diego Chargers’ quarterbacks coach.
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On the football field, a few former IUP players were on the move last winter. Former All-American offensive lineman Dan Matha signed a contract with the Montreal Alouettes, of the Canadian Football League, and Ceasar Westbrook ’13 and Diamond Avery ’10 signed pacts with the Erie Explosion, of the Continental Indoor Football League.
In basketball, two alumni with lengthy high school basketball coaching careers in Indiana County achieved milestone wins this year. Dave Woodall ’73, the girls’ coach at Indiana High School the past 18 seasons, won his 300th game on January 23, while Bob Rado ’78, the boys’ coach at Homer-Center High School, claimed his 400th win the night before. Rado was previously the coach at Marion Center and Indiana high schools, and he won more than 100 games at each school.
Former IUP women’s basketball coach Cindy Martin, who guided the Crimson Hawks to a combined 70-23 record from 2005 to 2008, has spent the past few years in Columbus, Ohio. She is the owner of the Cindy Martin Basketball School, where she passes along lessons of the game to players of all ages.
Mindy Sawtelle-Zottola ’05, one of the most decorated runners in IUP history, was the eighth woman to finish the Columbus (Ohio) Half-Marathon in October. She completed the race in one hour, 39 minutes, and 33 seconds. It was the third half-marathon of the year for Sawtelle-Zottola.
A former All-America swimmer at IUP, Ashley McAteer ’13 was recently named the girls’ swim coach at Woodmont High School in Piedmont, South Carolina. McAteer is a physical education teacher at Ralph Chandler Middle School in nearby Simpsonville.
At the conclusion of the fall sports season, IUP ranked sixth in the standings for the Dixon Trophy, which is awarded annually to the top athletics department in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
To compile the rankings, each team from the 18 members of the PSAC is awarded points for its finish in the standings. IUP did not win any team championships in the fall, but had solid showings in football, golf, field hockey, and cross country. The Dixon Trophy standings will be updated at the conclusion of the winter season, and the final results will be tabulated when spring sports are finished competing.
IUP has never won the Dixon Trophy in the 18-year history of the award, but finished second last year, only three one-hundredths of a point behind West Chester.
More from the Spring 2014 Issue of IUP Magazine
In need of a shared vision to guide its future, the university turned to the Journalism Department for help
Alumnus John Gilly is on a quest for vaccines to prevent some of the world’s most threatening diseases
IUP offers an excellent return on investment—for the students it serves and for the alumni who generously support the university.
Raymond Carroll was guilty of thievery the evening of January 31, 1914, but he was no lawbreaker—just a record breaker
Lasting bonds have been forged in IUP student groups and programs
Two major construction projects are under way on campus: the Crimson Café and a new building for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences
A $1.25-million gift from an alumni couple offers a powerful start for a new science building
Twenty-five years have passed since the gymnastics team’s mad dash to the podium marking its second straight national title