Saint John’s University notes with sympathy the passing of its legendary football coach John Gagliardi, who achieved national attention for his success both on and off the field at Saint John’s. Gagliardi passed away on Oct. 7, 2018, at the age of 91.

“I offer my deepest condolences to John’s wife, Peggy, his family and friends and the thousands of Saint John’s alumni who played for him,” said SJU President Michael Hemesath. “John Gagliardi was not only an extraordinary coach, he was also an educator of young men and builder of character. John inspired deep and enduring loyalty and passion among his players across the decades because he taught them lessons through the medium of football that served them well in their personal and professional lives long after graduating from Saint John’s University. His is a legacy any educator would be extremely proud of.”

The winningest coach all-time in college football with 489 victories, Gagliardi won four national titles at SJU (1963, 1965, 1976 and 2003) and made the 2000 national title game. The Johnnies also advanced to the national semifinals six other years and overall earned 24 post-season appearances. His teams won a total of 30 conference championships, including 27 at SJU. 

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“I’m profoundly sad about John’s passing and he was a dear friend,” said Bob Alpers, SJU athletic director. “On behalf of Saint John’s athletics, our heartfelt condolences to Peggy and the Gagliardi family. There will never be another John. We are forever grateful for his contributions to Saint John’s, our student-athletes and the fans of Johnnie football. We’re going to miss him.” 

Gagliardi was born in Trinidad, Colorado, and was a graduate of Colorado College. He coached collegiately for 64 years–four years at Carroll College in Helena, Montana, before coming to Saint John’s in 1953 and replacing Johnny “Blood” McNally, a charter member of the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

He was an outstanding mentor to the thousands of young student-athletes who came through his program. At Saint John’s, Gagliardi produced 113 All-Americans, as well as 22 Academic All-Americans (either first- or second-team selections). Gagliardi’s former players have gone on to become leaders in government, politics, education, business and finance.