DURHAM, N.H.-- University of New Hampshire athletic director Marty Scarano announced today that he has renewed a multi-year contract for fifth-year head football coach Sean McDonnell.
McDonnell, who led his Wildcat football team to a 5-7 overall record and a 3-6 Atlantic 10 mark, saw his squad steadily improve in 2003 and go on to win three of its last four Atlantic 10 contests, most recently vs. 22nd-ranked Maine on Nov. 22, 47-27.
"UNH is fortunate to have an individual such as Sean McDonnell leading it's football program, " said Scarano. "The program has exhibited considerable progress this season. We were a much better team than the record reflects and it was evident that we were indeed a very good team on Saturday after defeating Maine. I believe this team has grown each week and clearly winning three of the last four contests reflected that. Add to that very close losses to Delaware, UMass and Central Michigan and one sees a program on the rise. With so much talent and youth returning we feel very good about this program next year and coach McDonnell's leadership. Furthermore Sean is a leader on this campus and in the community and that is very important at UNH, something that too few schools use as an assessment of a successful program."
"I am excited to have the opportunity to continue building this program and add to the successes that our team enjoyed at the end of the 2003 season," said McDonnell. The tradition of New Hampshire football is a combination of academics, athletics and a sense of family. This support from Marty and our administration to the coaching staff and players is important as we work towards an Atlantic 10 championship."
In his first five seasons at UNH, McDonnell, a 1978 graduate of UNH, has posted an overall record of 23-33 with his best year being 2000 (6-5, 4-4 Atlantic 10).
In 2002, UNH posted impressive victories over the likes of top-ranked Massachusetts, Dartmouth and Richmond. The Minutemen were ranked 17th in the nation when the Wildcats defeated them by a 31-14 margin at Cowell Stadium.
In 2001, McDonnell's offense was one of the most prolific in I-AA football and averaged 449.2 yards per contest and 36.7 ppg. In the victories over the likes of Hampton, James Madison, Dartmouth and Massachusetts the 'Cats scored 37 ppg. and scored over 40 points in two of the victories. UNH finished with a 4-7 overall record in 2001 and was ranked in the top 25 after four games.
In 2000, the Wildcats were ranked as high as 23rd in the nation and knocked off three top 25 opponents, including Hampton (31-17), Massachusetts (24-16) and a huge upset victory over No. 2 ranked Delaware on Nov. 4 (45-44 OT). Injuries squashed UNH's chances for a playoff berth down the stretch, but UNH opened the campaign with a 4-0 record, its best start since 1977 when the Wildcats won seven straight games. UNH finished the season with a winning 6-5 record and were tied for fourth in the Atlantic 10 Football Conference. As a result of his outstanding coaching performance, McDonnell was named the Gridiron Club Of Greater Boston College Head Coach Of The Year.
In his rookie debut, McDonnell led the Wildcats to impressive victories over the likes of Northeastern (33-31), Connecticut (43-18) and Maine (31-20). Under McDonnell and his staff, the Wildcats featured a crafty and wide open offensive attack which led the Atlantic 10 with an average of 457.3 yards per game.
McDonnell, who served as offensive coordinator for the Wildcats for five seasons prior to being hired, was named the 19th head coach of the UNH football program on April 22, 1999. McDonnell replaced the legendary head coach Bill Bowes, who retired after 27 years as the mentor of the Wildcats.
McDonnell served eight seasons as a Wildcat assistant and completed his fifth in 1998 as the team's offensive Coordinator. McDonnell rejoined the Wildcats as an assistant coach before the 1991 spring camp, and in his first two seasons, McDonnell worked with the quarterbacks and receivers. In 1997, McDonnell was named the recipient of "The College Assistant Coach Award" by the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston in recognition of his quality of performance, loyalty and longevity.
A native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., McDonnell was a standout defensive back for UNH. He started for the 1975 and 1976 Yankee Conference Championship teams and came back to start for the 1978 squad. After his graduation from UNH in 1978, he spent one year as an assistant coach at Manchester (N.H.) Memorial High School and followed that up with a three-year stint at Manchester West (1980-82). McDonnell worked as the defensive coordinator at Hamilton College for two seasons (1983-84) and subsequently spent three years (1985-87) coaching the receivers and tight ends at former conference-rival Boston University. During the 1988 campaign, McDonnell served as a graduate assistant coach at Boston College. He spent two seasons as an assistant at Columbia (1989-90) prior to his coaching debut in Durham.
Sean and his wife, Jenny, live in Durham with their two boys, Timmy and Tommy.