Kelly Departs for Ball State
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 31, 2014 00:01
After eight seasons on the Hilltop, Head Coach Kevin Kelly is leaving Georgetown’s football team to become defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Ball State.
Kelly, who became head coach for the 2006 season, notched a 24-63 record with the Hoyas. His only winning season came in 2011, when the team finished 8-3 and Kelly was named Patriot League Coach of the Year.
“While on the Hilltop, he embraced the challenge of coaching this program in the highly competitive Patriot League and has helped to build a strong foundation,” Athletic Director Lee Reed said in a statement Thursday morning.
The only coach in school history to have a winless season — a 0-11 campaign in 2009 — Kelly was unable to replicate his 2011 success the past two years. In 2012, the Hoyas were 5-6, and the squad slumped to 2-9 last fall.
Ball State, on the other hand, has been surging forward under fourth-year Head Coach — and Georgetown alum — Pete Lembo (GSB ’92). The Cardinals, who play in the Football Bowl Subdivision, finished 10-3 and lost in the GoDaddy Bowl this season.
Lembo and Kelly met in 1995 while they both served on Dartmouth’s coaching staff.
“Since that time, we have maintained a very close friendship as our careers have progressed,” Lembo said in a statement. “Kevin has been both a mentor and a great resource for me through the years.”
In addition to his turn at Dartmouth, Kelly was special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at Navy from 2002 to 2005 and defensive coordinator at Marshall in 2000 and 2001. He has also spent time at Syracuse, Tulane, Northeastern, Bowdoin and Southern Connecticut State.
Kelly arrived at Georgetown in 2006 to replace Bob Benson, who resigned after six straight losing seasons and became defensive coordinator at Towson. Benson now serves as the associate head coach at the Colorado School of Mines.
A Football Championship Subdivision school that does not offer football scholarships and plays at the 2,500-seat MultiSport Facility, Georgetown has had just one winning season since 1999.
Lembo alluded to these difficulties in his statement on Kelly’s hiring.
“I am also grateful for [Kelly’s] efforts to make my alma mater’s football program competitive despite some inherent challenges there,” Lembo said.
Although Kelly’s win-loss record at Georgetown was badly underwater, he helped three players — Alex Buzbee, Andrew Schaetzke and Robert McCabe — develop into All-Americans and 25 others become all-Patriot League competitors.
“Coach Kelly was always there for his players! Especially when they were down. He was there when we needed him most,” senior defensive back Stephen Atwater wrote on Twitter. “What did I admire most about Coach Kelly? Definitely his high level of organization combined with his elite people skills.”
In its announcement, Georgetown said it would conduct a national search for Kelly’s replacement. In the meantime, Reed has tabbed assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Rob Sgarlata (COL ’94) to serve as interim head coach.
Sgarlata has spent his entire coaching career on the Hilltop, including time leading the offensive and defensive lines, receivers and tight ends. He was promoted to defensive coordinator under Benson in 2004.
A standout player at Georgetown, Sgarlata led the team in rushing in his junior and senior years and was a captain in 1993.