Former Football Coach John Pont Passes Away

July 2, 2008

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale athletics department mourns the passing of former head football coach John Pont, who passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 80. Pont died at his home in Oxford, Ohio, after a battle with cancer.

Pont was named Yale's head coach on March 6, 1963. He had spent the previous seven seasons as head coach at Miami of Ohio, where he played for Woody Hayes and succeeded Ara Parseghian as coach. Pont also served in the U.S. Navy.

The Bulldogs went 6-3 in Pont's first season in New Haven, including a 20-6 win over Harvard. The following season Yale went 6-2-1. Pont then left for Indiana, where he was the Walter Camp Coach of the Year in 1967 after leading the Hoosiers to a 9-2 record that included a Big 10 co-championship and the school's only Rose Bowl appearance.

Pont coached Indiana through 1972, then coached at Northwestern from 1973 -1977. He was also athletic director at Northwestern from 1975-80, where he initiated the women's intercollegiate athletics program. He also was the first coach at College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio in 1990 and served as a consultant to a semi-professional football team in Japan. After retiring he volunteered as a coach at a local high school and attended Miami practices.

Pont is survived by his wife, Sandy, three children and seven grandchildren. His uniform number, 42, is retired by Miami. He is in Miami's and Indiana's Athletic Halls of Fame, and he is in the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.

Pont also left an important legacy in New Haven, where he was replaced by Carm Cozza in 1965. Cozza had been Pont's teammate at Miami, rooming with him senior year. Pont asked Cozza to join his staff at Miami as an assistant, and Cozza also joined Pont in the move to Yale.

"John had been primarily an offensive player, and I had been primarily a defensive player," Cozza said. "It worked out well."

Cozza, a Hall of Famer, coached the Bulldogs for 32 seasons and is the winningest coach in Ivy League history (179 wins and 10 Ivy championships).

"I don't know of anybody that was more competitive than John," Cozza said. "He loved coaching. It was in his blood."

Pont's brother, Rich, joined Cozza's staff as an assistant coach in 1968. Rich Pont remained on Cozza's staff through 1994, coaching the offensive backfield and mentoring many of Yale's top rushers such as Rich Diana '81, Calvin Hill '69, Dick Jauron '73 and John Pagliaro '78.

Cozza praised John Pont's character.

"He had great integrity," Cozza said. "He really cared about all of his players, and his door was always open. He touched an awful lot of lives."

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity