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Carnegie Mellon University Athletics Department Announces Naming of Lackner Field

man wearing gray coat, hat, and sunglasses raising arms in air and smiling next to a image of a football field

(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) – For nearly 50 years, Rich Lackner called Carnegie Mellon and its football program home as a student athlete and as coach. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends of Tartan Football, the university and athletics department are proud to announce the campaign to name the Richard M. Lackner Field at Gesling Stadium in honor of Lackner’s legacy.

“Rich is a Carnegie Mellon treasure and impacted the lives of thousands of Carnegie Mellon students during his Hall of Fame career,” said Director of Athletics Josh Centor. “Rich’s name is synonymous with Carnegie Mellon Football, and it will be an honor for the next generations of Tartans to play football on Lackner Field.”

Generations of alumni who played with and were coached by Lackner have come forward to build momentum for the future of Carnegie Mellon football with donations in honor of Lackner’s retirement. These financial commitments will have a lasting impact on the football program and Carnegie Mellon Athletics. Major gifts to the new Highmark Center for Health, Wellness and Athletics have been made in recognition of Lackner’s career, in addition to newly-established endowed funds supporting the football program and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion across the athletics department. Additional $500k+ leadership commitments recently made will propel strategic opportunities of head coach Ryan Larsen and positively impact long-term priorities for the Carnegie Mellon Football program.

“The commitment of our football community has been overwhelming. Our alums and families want to be a part of honoring Rich, but also in securing the future of one of the country’s strongest football programs,” Centor said. 

Lackner's illustrious career is highlighted by a coaching record of 234-125-2, making him the winningest coach in program history. Lackner led the Tartans to 13 conference championships and three NCAA playoff berths. He coached 50 All-Americans and 61 Academic All-Americans throughout his time on the sidelines. 

As a player, Lackner was a standout linebacker for the Tartans from 1975-78. He was a four-year starter at linebacker, a three-time All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) pick, as well as the PAC’s 1976 Defensive Player-of-the-Year. A model student, he was twice named an Academic All-American. His induction into the inaugural Carnegie Mellon University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2019 solidified his status as a cornerstone of Tartan athletic tradition.

“I am deeply moved by this tremendous honor and very grateful to the university administration and all the donors who have made Lackner Field possible,” Lackner said. “During my 36 years as head football coach, I was incredibly fortunate to coach brilliant student-athletes and to work with exceptional assistant coaches and staff who were dedicated to their craft. Football is the ultimate team sport and our success was achieved by many great teams at CMU. I hope Lackner Field is the site of many more championships for the Tartans’ football program.” 

Lackner Field will be dedicated on September 14, when the Tartans host their home opener against Geneva. On Friday, September 13 a special dinner will be held for leadership donors with the Lackner family. On Saturday, there will be additional opportunities to celebrate supporters of the field naming initiative prior to kickoff.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Coach Lackner’s unwavering commitment and love for Carnegie Mellon and Tartan Football than his name being placed upon the field where he changed the lives of student-athletes for decades,” said head football coach Ryan Larsen. “Rich’s mentorship is something I am personally grateful for, and I couldn’t be more excited that our alumni and administration helped make this field naming a reality.”

For those who would like to support the Lackner Field initiative and make a gift in Coach Lackner’s honor, please contact Associate Director of Athletics Development Matt McCamley.