Mark Murnyack enters his tenth season at the helm of the Norwich University football program in 2020. A long-time assistant coach for the Cadets before his selection as Head Coach on Feb. 7, 2011, Murnyack and his staff have directed the team to a 48-46 overall record.
Additionally, the efforts of Murnyack and his staff have produced 96 All-Academic honorees in the NEWMAC and ECFC since 2011. On the field, his players have earned 79 All-Conference selections during that time span.
In his first season as Head Coach, Murnyack and the Cadets won the program's second ECFC Championship in 2011 with a 16-9 victory over Maritime (N.Y.) on Nov. 5, 2011. In 2015, the Cadets claimed the third ECFC Championship title since 2009 and went on to face Albright on Nov. 21 in its second-ever NCAA Division III Tournament appearance, both under Murnyack's direction.
His 2011 team finished the year with an impressive 7-4 overall record, ranking sixth nationally in rushing offense (303.73) while completing the year by allowing the third-fewest quarterback sacks (.45). Additionally, Long Ding '12 converted 13-of-16 field goals to rank 19th in the country (1.18/game).
Murnyack was also recognized as the ECFC's Coach of the Year following a poll of his peers. His first year as a Head Coach also saw nine student-athletes earn ECFC All-Conference honors while the same number collected ECFC All-Academic team merits. His first win as a head coach came against Becker on Sept. 24, a decisive 38-20 victory at home.
In 2012, Murnyack led the program to a 7-3 record and a second-place finish in the ECFC. The Cadets were offered a bid to the 2012 ECAC Northeast Bowl, facing-off against Endicott on Nov. 17. Once again, Norwich made great ground gains to finish 10th nationally in rushing offense (271.10).
Defensively, the 2012 squad was 15th nationally in rushing defense (89) and was adept at limiting turnovers, finishing 18th in NCAA Division III with a 1.10 turnover margin. The Cadets led the ECFC in all three of the aforementioned categories.
In 2013 and 2014, the Cadets posted a 7-4 overall record and made Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) postseason appearances against Springfield and Salve Regina, respectively. Norwich would allow only 148.9 passing yards per game, finishing 12th in the nation, while boasting the country's 17th ranked defense (279.3 yards allowed/game).
Despite an 0-3 start to the 2015 season, Murnyack's team rallied to post six-straight victories while scoring at least 20 points in each game. The squad would eventually fall to Albright in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, its seventh-straight postseason appearance.
In 2017, the Norwich football program transitioned into the newly formed New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) under the guidance of Murnyack. The team has shown marked improvement his making the switch and breaking into the new league with a 1-9 record. In 2018, the team boosted its stock finishing with a 3-7 record then broke out of the gates in 2019 by stringing together four-straight wins and finishing the year at 5-5.
The improvement in 2019 was spawned by an enormous growth in the passing attack as the team ranked 17th in the nation in passing offense (310 yards/game). Matt Dunn '21 ranked 16th in the country in passing yards per game (292.6) and connected often with Manni Romero '21 whose 1,235 receiving yards ranked 9th in Division III.
Prior to being named the 29th head coach in the history of the program, Murnyack first joined the Cadets during the 1997 season where he worked closely with the team's linebackers. He would later work with the defensive line that, at one point, limited opponents to less than three yards per rush from 1998 to 1999.
From 2000 to 2005, Murnyack assisted the defensive corps at his alma mater, Juniata, while also serving as an assistant to the Eagles' baseball program. He returned to Norwich prior to the 2006 football season as the Director of Football Operations and defensive line coach.
He orchestrated the ECFC's top rushing (105.55 yards per game) and scoring (18.36 points per game) defenses in 2009 and 2010. His 2010 Norwich unit was also ranked second in total defense (266.09 yards per game).
Several Norwich student-athletes have received major awards under Murnyack's supervision. Jason Springer '12 was selected as the Empire 8 "Rookie of the Year" in 2007 while Reza Afsarmanesh '10 was named the ECFC "Defensive Player of the Year" in 2009.
Long Ding '12 won ECFC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2011, joining Rob Sturgis '12 who secured ECFC Offensive Lineman of the Year. In 2015, Wesley Medeiros '17 was designated as the ECFC Special Teams Player of the Year.
The 2018 and 2019 seasons witnessed back-to-back NEWMAC Rookie of the Year honorees as Lavontae Decius '22 (2018) and Trevor Chase '23 (2019) captured the award in successive seasons. Additionally in 2019, Manni Romero '21 became the first Cadet to be named the Joe Zabilski Offensive Player of the Year and was named to the New England Football Writers All-New England Team.
As a student-athlete, Murnyack was a four-year letter winner at Juniata and served as a team captain for two seasons before graduating in 1996. He resides in Northfield with his wife, Kerri, and their three children (Nolan, Vance, Sylvia). He enjoys golf and watching Pittsburgh Steelers football in his spare time.
Primary: New York (Sec. 1 and 9), Florida and Vermont
Auxiliary: Pennsylvania, Ohio