By Pat Harty
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Nick Quartaro’s time with Hawk Fanatic was brief, and while we would’ve enjoyed working with him, his reason for leaving is a feel-good story as the football coach in him still burns deeply.
Quartaro, a former Iowa kicker in the 1970s, and a long-time college football coach, had every intention of settling into retirement in upstate New York, and was in the early stages of doing so when he started helping Hawk Fanatic as a content producer earlier this spring.
Quartaro, 67, was a journalism major in college, and he wanted to pursue that passion on a part-time basis in retirement.
He wrote several articles for Hawk Fanatic during spring football practice, and he was planning to host a podcast and write a weekly column during football season.
But then recently came an opportunity that Quartaro just couldn’t turn down as he was named Terry Cullen Head Coach of Sprint Football at Cornell University.
Quartaro takes over for legendary Big Red head coach Terry Cullen, who announced his retirement in January after 45 seasons as head coach and 58 years total with Cornell. The 2023 season will be the first with someone other than a member of the Cullen family directing the Big Red sprint football program since 1957.
Sprint Football is a full-contact, intercollegiate, varsity sport and has the same rules as regular college football, except that all players must weigh 178.0 pounds or less. The league has been in existence since prior to World War II.
There are currently nine teams playing in the CSFL: Alderson Broaddus University, Army West Point, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill College, Cornell University, Mansfield University, the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Pennsylvania and St. Thomas Aquinas College.
Quartaro learned during the interview process that he had been recommended for the job by his close friend and former coaching colleague, Bob Stoops.
“Due to a very unexpected opportunity to return to coaching which gives me an opportunity to be a head coach, my time with Hawk Fanatic is coming to an end,” Quartaro said. “Unbeknownst to me at the time, Bob Stoops was contacted by the Director of Athletics at Cornell University, Dr. Nicki Moore.
“The two had worked together at Oklahoma. She was seeking recommendations to fill their job with the Sprint (formerly known as lightweight) football program. Upon going through the full search and interview process I was offered and accepted the job. I’m excited to have a chance to teach the game and mentor young men again. But I will miss what I thought I would be doing with Hawk Fanatic.”
This came down to one former Hawkeye helping another former Hawkeye.
Quartaro and Stoops, a former Iowa defensive back, and the former head coach at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2016, built a friendship while coaching together, including under Bill Snyder at Kansas State.
So, when Stoops was asked for his input, he endorsed Quartaro, whose home in upstate New York is only about a one-hour drive from the Cornell campus.
Stoops is currently the head coach and general manager for the XFL’s Arlington Renegades, which just recently won the league championship.
“This is a home-run hire,” Stoops said of Quartaro in a release from Cornell College. “Coach Quartaro is highly intelligent, supremely experienced, and deeply connected to that part of the country. I had the good fortune to work with Nick at both Iowa and Kansas State and with Dr. Moore at the University of Oklahoma, and have no doubt they’ll work great together to deliver a world-class experience for Cornell Sprint Football student-athletes.”
Quartaro has nearly four decades of coaching experience, with stops at Northwestern, Kansas State and Iowa State. He was also the head coach at Drake in 1987 and 1988 where he faced the daunting task of building a totally new non-scholarship program after the school had dropped their previous scholarship program.
With only two seniors on the team, the Bulldogs posted a 7-3 mark in his final season in 1988.
Quartaro now faces the challenge of replacing a coaching legend at Cornell.
“Being a fan of college sports history, I am humbled and extremely proud to be named head coach of the Cornell Sprint Football team,” Quartaro said in the Cornell release. “This program began in 1937 and it was played by all of the Ivy League schools and so many others throughout the Northeast. It’s obvious this program means a lot to the University and its alumni. Also, thanks to two legends, Terry Cullen and his father Bob. This program doesn’t hire a new head coach very often, so that makes my appointment here very special.”
Hawk Fanatic wishes Nick Quartaro good luck and happiness as he starts this new coaching challenge.