SELINSGROVE, Pa. – Susquehanna University has named Tom "Perk" Perkovich, Muhlenberg College's offensive coordinator, as its head football coach, the university announced at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Perkovich comes to Susquehanna after spending a combined 11 seasons as a member of the Muhlenberg coaching staff, serving under Mike Donnelly, Muhlenberg's winningest head coach. Under Donnelly's leadership, the Mules have been a perennial championship and post-season contender and national top-10 team. Offensive coordinator since 2010, Perkovich also served stints as special teams coordinator and offensive line coach. The Mules finished the 2014 season with a 9-2 overall record and qualified for the NCAA playoffs. The team averaged 438.6 yards and 38.3 points per game last season.
Perkovich replaces longtime Crusaders head coach Steve Briggs, who announced in December he would step down from his position to take on a new role at the university.
Perkovich said he is very proud to have landed the Susquehanna head coaching job.
"I am thrilled. Susquehanna is an exciting place with the values I believe in. It's a place where people value education and there's a good sense of where the athletic piece fits in."
The journey to a head coaching position is not an easy one, Perkovich said, adding that he is very happy all the hard work led him to Susquehanna. He counts the school's academic profile, location and excellent facilities among its many assets. And, as a member of the Centennial Conference, the university is part of a great league, he said.
Susquehanna President L. Jay Lemons extended a warm welcome to Coach Perkovich as he takes his place in the rich tradition of Crusaders football. That tradition includes a long line of highly regarded coaches, including Steve Briggs, William "Rocky" Rees and Bill Moll, and football coaching legends Jim Hazlett, Jim Garrett and Amos Alonzo Stagg Jr. and Sr.
"We are very happy Coach Perkovich will be joining Susquehanna," Lemons said. "It's very clear that his values are consistent with those of the university. I am looking forward to having Tom put his mark on Crusaders football. I am certain he will have a tremendous impact."
Susquehanna Director of Athletics Pam Samuelson said Perkovich was selected from a high-quality pool of applicants. "Tom emerged from the field as a rising star. He is an outstanding individual who will serve as a wonderful role model and advocate for our student-athletes. Tom brings an intelligent approach to his vision for Crusaders football and in developing a framework for sustained success, both on and off the field."
Briggs, Susquehanna's winningest coach, said the selection of Perkovich was a good one. "I've known Tom for five years as a competitor. He's a good person, a good coach and I am certain he'll do very well here."
Muhlenberg Director of Athletics and Susquehanna alumnus Corey Goff '95 called Perkovich one of the finest individuals he's encountered in his career. While Perkovich's departure will mean a loss for Muhlenberg, Goff said he is ecstatic for his colleague and his alma mater. "Tom's professionalism, intelligence and work ethic will afford him the tools necessary to establish and maintain a standard of excellence that will make us all proud."
Martin Pinter, Susquehanna '98 trustee, former Crusader and a member of the search committee that selected Perkovich, said the committee was impressed with Perkovich's enthusiasm and his commitment to recruiting young men as students first and then as players. "Tom set himself apart with that message. Football is part of the experience of the student-athlete, but they are students first."
In replacing Briggs, Perkovich will have some big shoes to fill, Pinter said, noting that Perkovich understands the tradition of Susquehanna football and is very in tune with the need for alumni and members of the campus community to be engaged.
A native of Tonawanda in western New York State, Perkovich was a two-sport athlete at Division I Canisius College, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physical education, graduating in 2003. He was an all-star offensive lineman for the Golden Griffins, earning Second-Team Mid-Major All-American honors from Football Gazette as a senior.
He began his coaching career at Muhlenberg in 2003, when he was named running backs coach, a position he held through the 2004 season. He then was hired as tight ends coach at Division I College of the Holy Cross and in 2006 was the running backs coach for Colgate University before returning to the Mules coaching staff for the start of the 2006 season.
Perkovich becomes the 30th head coach in the 116-year history of the Susquehanna football program. In 2010, the Crusaders joined the Centennial Conference, of which Muhlenberg is also a member. Susquehanna boasts eight First-Team All-Americans, seven CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and eight conference players of the year over the course of its history.
This past fall, the Crusaders had three Second-Team All-Centennial Conference players, two of whom return next year in offensive lineman Ryan Pearce '16 and linebacker Jim Barry '16, who served as a tri-captain in 2014.