In only three seasons as the head football coach at Sacred Heart University, Mark Nofri has already secured himself a place in the conversation of program greats. He enters the 2015 campaign, his fourth as head coach and 22nd with the program, with 21-15 record, including back-to-back Northeast Conference titles and Coach of the Year accolades.
Nofri earned his second consecutive NEC Coach of the Year award in 2014, leading the Pioneers to their first-ever national rankings and second consecutive berth in the FCS Playoffs. SHU defeated nationally ranked Delaware, on the road, and Bryant, at home, for the program's first-ever wins over nationally ranked opponents. Nofri and the Pioneers went 9-3 in 2014, with a 5-1 mark in league play as they earned the league's automatic FCS berth on the strength of a win at Wagner. For the second time in as many seasons the Pioneers travelled to the Bronx to take on Fordham in FCS action.
The 2013 season marked a resurgance for Sacred Heart Football. In his second season as head coach - the first without the interim tag - Nofri spearheaded an eight-game turnaround as SHU posted a 10-3 mark and made its first-ever FCS Championship appearance. The Pioneers finished the NEC regular season at 4-2 and on the strength of a win over Duquesne in the regular season earned the league's postseason berth. That accomplishment earned Nofri his first NEC Coach of the Year accolade.
Nofri coached Pioneers have also seen recognition at the national level. In the past two seasons SHU has had five players earn All-America status for their football. Gordon Hill (Second Team) and Jaime Martinez (Third Team) earned Sports Network All-America following the 2014 campaign. The year prior, Troy Moore, Keshaudas Spence, and J.D. Roussel were all named All-America as well.
The Pioneers have been well represented in the New England and NEC postseason award announcements as well. SHU has had 28 All-NEC First and Second Team selections in the past three seasons, with 14 in 2014, and have had five All-New England Selections. The squad captured three major NEC awards in 2013, including running back Keshaudas Spence as offensive Player of the Year, defensive tackle Troy Moore as Defensive Player of the Year, and quarterback R.J Noel named NEC Rookie of the Year.
In 2014, Sean Bell earned Capital One Academic All America as selected by CoSida, Second Team honors - the first football player in school history to do so and only the third student-athlete. He would go on to earn the NEC Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year award as well.
The longest tenured football coach in school history, Nofri began his coaching career at Hamilton College before coming to Sacred Heart in 1994 as a part of Gary Reho's coaching staff. He graduated from Keene State in 1993 and earned his Master's of Education from Sacred Heart.
During his first five seasons at Sacred Heart, Nofri coached the defensive backs. The Whitesboro, NY native’s football background includes a coaching stint at Hamilton College where he worked with the defensive backs. His playing career included stints at Dean College and Canisius.
During his time at SHU, Nofri helped guide the Pioneers to an undefeated season in 2001 (11-0) and the Northeast Conference Championship. The Pioneers long-time linebackers coach, he produced several All-Conference and All-American linebackers during his time as an assistant, including Jayson Jarrett '01, Kayode Mayowa '02, Craig Capurso '02, Jon Corto '06, Chris Mandas '11 and Justin Sexton. Mayowa was the 2002 Ernie Davis Award winner while Corto played four seasons in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills.
Nofri took over as the interim head coach for the 2012 season and the Pioneers finished 2-9 and were 1-7 in the Northeast Conference.
Nofri and his wife, Julie, live in Naugatuck with their sons Mark and Mathew.