Former UConn men’s soccer coach Joseph J. Morrone, a Hall of Fame coach whom the stadium the Huskies play in is named after, died Wednesday night, according to a UConn press release. He was 79.
Morrone played an integral role in turning the UConn soccer program into a nationally known powerhouse. In 1981, he led the Huskies to a 2-1 victory over Alabama A&M to win the NCAA championship.
He coached at UConn for 28 years. Morrone started in Storrs in July 1969, and remained as head coach until retiring after the 1996 season. Morrone was also a part of the university’s kinesiology department until 2014.
Prior to coaching at UConn, Morrone coached at Middlebury College for 11 years, posting a record of 64-21-11.
At UConn, he posted a record of 358-178-53. He finished his coaching career as one of four college coaches to win 400 games, finishing with a 39-year record of 422-199-64.
"The legacy of Coach Joe Morrone is more than the University of Connecticut. Coach Morrone was a forefather in all of college soccer nationally," UConn men's soccer head coach Ray Reid said in a statement Thursday. "He built Morrone Stadium practically with his bare hands. He was the first coach to do interregional travel. He was one of the first coaches to actively recruit and also have a fundraising organization (Friends of Soccer). Coach Morrone laid the blueprint not only for soccer at UConn but as importantly for college soccer in the entire country."
"Coach Morrone is the godfather of UConn men's soccer," Reid said. "We love him and we are respectful of all he accomplished. I know that what I have today in large part comes from 28 years of coach Morrone's labor here and we've been able to build on his legacy and continue his outstanding tradition of excellence with student-athletes, both in the classroom and on the field."
"Joe Morrone is UConn Soccer... and he will always be UConn Men's Soccer," Reid said.
UConn made the NCAA Tournament 16 times and won the Big East championship three times (1983, 1984, 1989) under Morrone’s guidance.
Morrone was inducted into the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Hall of Fame in 2002, and was a member of the inaugural class of inductees in the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame in 1999.
In April 1997, the UConn Board of Trustees approved the naming of the UConn stadium Joseph J. Morrone Stadium due to the contribution Morrone gave to soccer, specifically at UConn.