Columbia Football Coach Resigns Amid Claims He Ignored Concussions

Following reports this week that dozens of football players have accused Columbia University football coach Pete Mangurian of mistreating the team, the university announced Mangurian’s resignation Friday.

“I have accepted Pete Mangurian’s resignation because we have all come to the conclusion that it would be in the best interests of Columbia Athletics,” Columbia President Lee Bollinger announced in a statement. “Under [Athletic Director] Dianne Murphy, Columbia teams have built a new winning tradition across our men’s and women’s sports and we expect no less of our football program.”

On Thursday, the Columbia Daily Spectator described a letter reportedly signed by 25 Columbia football players and sent to a handful of university officials, including Bollinger. In the letter, which according to the CDS was later withdrawn, the authors reportedly accused Mangurian of denying concussion diagnoses and refusing to let players rest after injury.

“There are several players who will speak to the fact that Mangurian told them to return to practice, that they are faking their concussions, and that they are being soft if they sit out for their concussion injury,” the players wrote, according to the CDS.

The letter reportedly also accused Mangurian of being physically and mentally abusive, in addition to imposing unrealistic weight regimens.

“While we don’t generally comment on specific cases under review, it is essential to note that Columbia adheres to a strict medical protocol regarding head injuries for all sports teams,” the university said in a statement in response to the letter. “Our investigation has found no evidence to support an allegation of a departure from that protocol with our football players.”

Mangurian’s resignation comes less than a month after Bollinger ordered a review of the football team, citing its “disappointing” performance this year.

The Columbia football team has not won a game in two seasons and is in the midst of a 21-game losing streak. This is the second-longest losing streak in Ivy League history, trailing Columbia’s 44-game streak in the 1980s.

Alums have called for Mangurian’s resignation in recent years. One such letter accused Mangurian of “knowingly putting Columbia players in a dangerous situation” by deploying “a lineup that is undersized and too young.”

Mangurian has been described as abrasive in the past. In 1995, when Mangurian was offensive line coach of the New York Giants, sportswriter Mike Freeman wrote in The New York Times:

Sometimes his confrontational style rubs the players the wrong way … Players say the thing they like about Mangurian is that they always know where they stand with him. He is direct and honest. What bothers them, they say, is that he sometimes rides them when they don’t need it. They say he needs to learn when to get on a player and when not to.

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