A legend will leave Penn after this year, as it was announced Friday that sprint football coach Bill Wagner will retire after 50 seasons leading the team.
The team has had its fair share of success under “Wags", as he is affectionately called. Since arriving on campus in 1970, Wagner has led the Red and Blue to five Collegiate Sprint Football League titles, with the most recent coming in 2016. Additionally, the CSFL Most Valuable Player came from the Quakers during eight of Wagner's seasons.
“Firm and Fair. That's how I played the game, and it was the way my mentor — my Dad, Ben Wagner — taught me," Wagner wrote in the Penn Athletics' announcement. “There are too many people to thank, both in my immediate family and my Penn family, and hopefully I'll have time over these next few months to get to everyone. Just know that I am constantly blown away by everyone's support and loyalty, from the current players and their parents, to the alums, to the athletic administration."
In 2002, the William R. Wagner Trophy was introduced to the best Ivy League team in the CSFL standings, and Penn won its coach's namesake title 11 times through 2016, when it was discontinued after Princeton dropped out of the League.
“Bill Wagner is a coaching icon at the University of Pennsylvania," Athletics Director M. Grace Calhoun wrote in the release. “Our sprint football program is truly his program — he has coached nearly every living member, and he has been the driving force behind everything that makes it one of the top programs in our Division. ‘Wags' has positively impacted the lives of more than 1,500 student-athletes, both in sprint football and through his many years as an assistant baseball coach at Penn, and we look forward to celebrating his legacy this fall during his landmark 50th season leading our sprint football program."
Wagner's career will be more than his 136 wins thus far on the gridiron and the endowed head coaching position his name bears. He was also an assistant coach for Penn baseball during 35 years of his sprint football tenure, tallying 634 wins with head coach Bob Seddon. Besides the two sports, Wagner was awarded the Edward G. Myer Distinguished Service Award by the Brooks-Irvine Club Board of Governors in 2016 and is currently chairman of the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Red and Blue kick off their final season under Wagner with the annual alumni game on Sep. 7, and the team hosts CSFL power Army on Sep. 13 in its first competitive game of the year.