Waynesburg University athletic director Rudy Marisa will retire in July, ending a 41-year affiliation with the school.
Marisa spent 34 seasons as Waynesburg's men's basketball coach, winning 565 games and building the program into a national power during the school's days in the NAIA. He guided the Yellow Jackets to 15 consecutive appearances in the District 18 playoffs, including seven championships and trips to the national tournament in Kansas City, Mo. Waynesburg won an unprecedented six consecutive district championships from 1984 to 1989 and had a 131-21 record over a five-year period.
Waynesburg reached its peak under Marisa during the 1987-88 season when the Yellow Jackets compiled a 32-3 record and advanced to the NAIA Final Four, which was televised by ESPN.
At one stretch, Marisa's teams won 70 of 71 home games.
“Rudy has been a respected member of the Waynesburg University athletics department for more than four decades and has done an outstanding job as both a coach and administrator,” Waynesburg University President Timothy R. Thyreen said. “He will be missed, and as a campus community, we wish nothing but the absolute best for him and his entire family as he moves on to this next chapter in his life.”
During the same decade that his basketball program was thriving, Marisa became Waynesburg's athletic director. Seven years after his hiring, he helped lead Waynesburg into a new era when the school joined the NCAA Division III Presidents’ Athletic Conference in 1990.
Marisa guided Waynesburg to the PAC basketball championship in 1996 and two ECAC regional tournament appearances. He continued to coach until his retirement following the 2002-03 season. He was honored as a two-time PAC Coach of the Year and a five-time NAIA District 18 Coach of the Year.
While his coaching excellence is undeniable, Marisa also had a major impact as an administrator. During his time as athletic director, Waynesburg’s facilities have undergone major upgrades. John F. Wiley Stadium, the home of football, soccer and lacrosse teams, saw its bleachers expanded and an artificial playing surface installed. Waynesburg’s gymnasium, which was renamed the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse in 2000, was expanded and had a second basketball court added. And, in the last year, an artificial surface baseball field was installed.
Marisa said he already has plans for retirement.
“I’ve done a lot of traveling during the summer months, and I would like to do more of that,” he said. “Some of our preliminary plans include a trip to Africa in the fall. I would also like to hunt more and spend more time with my grandchildren.”
Marisa is married to his wife of more than 50 years, Jackie. The couple has four sons: Kurt, Kent, Kameron and Kerry, and a daughter, Autumn.
A Fredericktown native, Marisa is a 1952 graduate of East Bethlehem High School. He played college basketball at Penn State and was a key member of the Nittany Lions' team that advanced to the Final Four in 1954 and was the team's second-leading scorer as a senior.
Marisa's coaching career started at Dunbar Township High School near Connellsville. He became the first head coach at Albert Gallatin High School, where he spent six years before moving to Trinity for one year. In 1969, he took over Waynesburg's struggling program that won only six games over the previous two seasons.