Talley Steps Down as Football Coach at Stonehill

Talley accepts athletics development position at Cal State Chico

EASTON, Mass. (April 27, 2016) – Stonehill College has announced that Robert Talley has stepped down following nine seasons as its football head coach to accept the position of Director of Development for the Athletics Department at California State University, Chico. The announcement was made this morning by Dean O'Keefe '94, Director of Athletics at the College.

Talley oversaw the transformation of a Stonehill football program, which hadn't won more than four games in the 11 years prior to his appointment in 2007, into the upper echelon of the Northeast-10 Conference over his nine seasons. He guided the Skyhawks to a 5-5 mark in his first year, winning as many games as they had the previous two seasons combined, going on to lead the program to six .500 or better seasons for the first time since the 1990s. Talley departs Stonehill as its all-time wins leader with a 48-46 (.511) overall record, including a 39-36 (.520) clip in Northeast-10 play, highlighted by a share of the 2013 NE-10 regular season championship. Stonehill finished 2015 with its second winning season over the past three years, with a 7-4 record overall, including a season-opening 27-10 triumph at 11th-ranked Bloomsburg University.

"I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Coach Talley for his exceptional leadership of our football program and faithfully serving the entire Stonehill community for the past nine seasons," said O'Keefe. "Rob's unwavering commitment to building a culture of excellence both on and off the field has produced more than simply wins and championships, it has provided hundreds of student-athletes an environment engineered to develop the academic and life skills required for success after graduation.

"While Rob's departure is certainly a loss for Stonehill," O'Keefe continued. "I am thrilled for the Talley family as they realize their dreams of moving back to California and starting a new chapter in their lives."

Talley earned New England Football Writers Division II/III Coach of the Year honors and was a finalist for the Liberty Mutual Division II Coach of the Year award in 2013 as he guided Stonehill to its best season in nearly 20 years with an 8-3 record overall, including an 8-1 mark in the Northeast-10 to earn a share of its first NE-10 regular season championship. Talley earned D2football.com Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2012, as Stonehill posted its first winning season in NE-10 play since his first year in 2007, finishing with a 5-3 mark, and the Skyhawks were named "Team of the Year" in the Conference by D2football.com.

"I would like to thank Coach Talley for his leadership of our football program over the past nine years," said Stonehill President, Rev. John Denning, C.S.C. "He has certainly elevated the level of play on the field at Stonehill and strengthened the program. His mentorship of our football student-athletes, however, is equally noteworthy in that it taught our players important life lessons about the value of teamwork, resilience and responsibility."

Talley produced 49 All-Northeast-10 Conference honorees over his nine seasons, including a school-record nine in 2013 and 2014. In addition to the first three All-Americans in program history, he has also coached five All-Super Region I and five All-New England selections. Stephan Neville '12 became the program's first All-American when he was selected to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' All-America team after setting an NCAA Division II record with ten career kickoff returns for a touchdown. Neville later became the program's first professional signee with the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. Also collecting All-America honors were Jareed Gaines '13 and Brian Harrington '15, who also received the Joseph P. Zabilski Defensive Player of the Year Award from the Gridiron Club of Boston in 2013.

"For the last nine years I have been blessed with the opportunity to work at a great institution and coach quality young men," said Talley. "I have always mentioned that the best part of our program are the student-athletes. I appreciate their commitment, dedication and integrity they have displayed over the years. I will miss the great staff and faculty that have all played a role in the success of the team and the quality of my experience. I am looking forward to the path that lies ahead but I will always cherish the wonderful memories and expect the program to continue to grow and experience the kind of success we have been working towards and that the team deserves."

Under Talley's leadership, eight of his student-athletes were CoSIDA Academic All-District™ selections, including a program-record three in 2014. Anthony Masucci '16 became the program's second CoSIDA Academic All-American®, and first since 1992, last fall, when he also received the Nils V. "Swede" Nelson Award from the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston. Masucci, James Lanier, '13 and Brian Harrington, '14 have all been named semifinalists for the National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete Awards during Talley's tenure as well.

While not on the field or in the classroom, Talley encouraged his players to be active within the community, receiving special recognition from the City of Brockton for their volunteer efforts in shoveling out the homes of "at risk" elderly in the city during the record snowfall in January and February 2015. The football program has also been active with Team IMPACT, Light the Night Walk to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, as well as supporting Stonehill's annual Bone Marrow Registry Drive in memory of Henry Thevenin '14 who passed away due to complications from his courageous battle with leukemia in June 2011 following his freshman season. Nick Chiocco '16, was also recently recognized as a member of the Allstate/AFCA Good Works Team® for his many charitable endeavors. Following the 2009 season, Stonehill received the NE-10's Team Sportsmanship Award for the sport of football.

"I deeply appreciate the significant contributions Rob has made to Stonehill, and the strong foundation he has established will undoubtedly allow our football program and its student-athletes to experience continued excellence moving forward," said O'Keefe.

O'Keefe has announced that assistant head coach Eli Gardner will lead the football program as interim head coach while a search for Talley's replacement begins immediately.

With 20 intercollegiate sports, Stonehill boasts one of the top athletic and academic programs in the country. In addition to winning its fifth Northeast-10 Presidents' Cup following the 2014-15 academic year, the Skyhawks have received the NCAA Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Achievement each of the first five years of the program's existence of honoring institutions with an Academic Success Rate (ASR) of 90-percent or better. Stonehill has earned a 96% Academic Success Ranking (ASR) by the NCAA two straight years, which considers the academic success rate of the institution based on the graduation rate of student-athletes, good for fifth among all NCAA Division II institutions, with 12 Skyhawk teams receiving a perfect rating of 100%. In addition, the Skyhawks are ranked third in the National Collegiate Scouting Association (NCSA) Power Rankings for Division II used to assess the academic and athletic standards of all NCAA and NAIA athletic programs. Stonehill has also been selected as the host of the 2016 NCAA Division II Field Hockey Championships at W.B. Mason Stadium.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter and Facebook. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.

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