Cornell men's hockey coach Mike Schafer to retire after next season

Mike Schafer, head men's hockey coach at Cornell University for nearly 30 years, has announced 2024-25 will be his final season leading the program.

Schafer, 61, is the longest-tenured and winningest head coach in Cornell history and the 13th-winningest coach all-time in Division I men's hockey. Since taking over in the summer of 1995, he has a 542-289-111 record over 28 seasons.

Cornell athletic director Nicki Moore announced Casey Jones, a former Cornell captain and assistant coach, will take over as the program's 13th head coach following Schafer's retirement. Jones is joining Cornell's staff as associate head coach after 13 seasons as head coach at Clarkson University, where he had a record of 234-185-56.

The Big Red went 22-7-6 this past season and beat the University of Maine, 3-1, in the NCAA Tournament before falling by a 2-1 score to eventual champion University of Denver in a national quarterfinal.

“I’ve had a 38-year coaching career in college hockey – 33 of them at Cornell,” Schafer said in a story that appeared on Cornell's website. “It’s been a tremendous experience helping the players and teams over the years to reach their goals while helping create Big Red pride and building spirit through Cornell hockey. I feel now is the perfect time for me to begin the transition into retirement."

Head coach MIke Schafer watches during the Cornell men's hockey team's 2-0 victory over Boston University in the biennial Red Hot Hockey event on Nov. 30, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Head coach MIke Schafer watches during the Cornell men's hockey team's 2-0 victory over Boston University in the biennial Red Hot Hockey event on Nov. 30, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Moore described Schafer as "a legend in the world of college hockey."

"For nearly four decades as a player, captain, assistant and, ultimately, head coach, Mike has poured his heart and total effort into the success of the program, and more importantly into the individual student-athletes who have played for him and have flourished on and off the ice thanks to his mentorship," Moore said in the story on Cornell's website.

Schafer was an assistant coach at Western Michigan for five seasons before returning to Cornell as head coach. As a defenseman at Cornell from 1982 to 1986, he was a two-year captain and part of three consecutive Ivy League titles. He was an assistant at Cornell for four seasons before leaving for Western Michigan.

His impact at Cornell reached another level as head coach. During Schafer's tenure, the Big Red has advanced to the NCAA Tournament 14 times. That included a trip to the Frozen Four in 2003, Cornell's first appearance in the NCAA semifinals since 1980.

Head coach Mike Schafer looks on during the Cornell men's hockey team's 2-1 victory over Quinnipiac on Nov. 22, 2019 at Lynah Rink in Ithaca.
Head coach Mike Schafer looks on during the Cornell men's hockey team's 2-1 victory over Quinnipiac on Nov. 22, 2019 at Lynah Rink in Ithaca.

Schafer was co-winner of the Spencer Penrose Award as the top coach in Division I men's hockey during the 2019-20 season. Cornell had a 23-2-4 record and was ranked No. 1 in the nation when the COVID-19 pandemic ended the season early. The pandemic also kept Cornell from playing in 2020-21.

Other accolades for Schafer include five-time selection as ECAC Coach of the Year and Ivy League Coach of the Year four times.

Schafer and his wife, Diane, are the parents of sons Luke and John, and daughter Michelle.

Follow Andrew Legare on Twitter: @SGAndrewLegare. You can also reach him at alegare@gannett.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today

This article originally appeared on Elmira Star-Gazette: Cornell men's hockey coach Mike Schafer to retire after 2024-25

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