Lakeland News Posting

Former Browns head coach to give keynote at Lakeland commencement ceremony May 12

Posted: April 27, 2018 | Updated: May 21, 2018

2018 Commencement Speaker Coach Sam Rutigliano

Lakeland Community College will hold its 51st annual commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12, at 10 a.m., with former Cleveland Browns coach Sam Rutigliano to serve as the keynote speaker.

More than 2,500 friends and family members are expected to attend the College's ceremony at an outdoor pavilion on campus. Ceremony music will be performed by The Lakeland Civic Orchestra.

Lakeland Commencement 2018 highlights include:

  • 885 (as of 5/1) students that will receive degrees.
  • The oldest graduate is 75; the youngest is 15.
  • College Credit Plus students graduating is 90 and represent 17 high schools.
  • Holden University Center graduates from partner institutions number 137 undergraduate and 51 graduate students.

Lakeland highest honor, the Distinguished Community Service Award, will be presented to Marco Marcopoli, who served as professor and department chair for civil engineering, mathematics and physics at Lakeland from 1967-1995, was the first men's soccer coach for the college, and was later elected as mayor of Kirtland where he served for two decades from 1980-2000.

The 2018 Commencement Ceremony will be broadcast on The Lakeland Network on Spectrum Cable channel 1025 beginning the week of May 20, 2018.

The ceremony will be live streamed at A recording of the ceremony will also be available on the college's YouTube channel.

About Sam Rutigliano
Sam Rutigliano, a lifelong educator and former coach of the Cleveland Browns, possesses an enduring passion for helping individuals overcome obstacles.

The son of Italian immigrants, Rutigliano played high school football at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn, New York, and college football at Tennessee and Tulsa. He began his coaching career at the high school-level in Brooklyn, continuing on with Greenwich, Connecticut and Chappaqua, New York. He moved on to college football, coaching in Connecticut and Maryland before landing a professional football assistant coaching job with the Denver Broncos in 1967. Rutigliano went on to be an assistant over the next 11 years with the New England Patriots, New York Jets and New Orleans Saints before earning the head coaching job for the Cleveland Browns in 1978.

During the next six years, he would lead Cleveland's beloved, "Kardiac Kids," which was the nickname given to the team because of the nail-biting games for which they came to be known. In 1980, he took the Browns to the American Football Conference Central Division Championships and received National Football League (NFL) Coach of the Year honors for that season.

During that time, Rutigliano teamed up with Dr. Gregory Collins, a psychiatrist with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation to be the first NFL coach to work with players in combating substance abuse. Together, they formed the Inner Circle, an anonymous support group that was attended by approximately a dozen Browns players. The Browns Inner Circle continues to serve as a template for all NFL teams today.

Rutigliano and the Browns parted company in 1984, after which he went on to be an analyst for NBC Sports and ESPN. In 1988, he assumed the head coaching job at Liberty University and was there for the next 11 years. He would then go on to be an assistant coach under Jack Bicknell for NFL Europe teams the Barcelona Dragons and the Scottish Claymores.

From 2005-2011, Rutigilano distinguished himself locally as a Browns analyst at WKYC, Sports Time Ohio and WEWS. In recent years, he has hosted a radio show on WFAN Sports Radio 101.9 FM. Perhaps most notably, Rutigliano established Coach Sam's Inner Circle Foundation. Providing elementary students with the opportunity for greater lifetime success, the Foundation strives to develop a well-rounded child by instilling the necessary skills to succeed in school and beyond.

By: Jessica Novak

Media Contact:
Kerry Jonke