Indiana football is finalizing a deal to make Curt Cignetti its next head coach, according to a report from ESPN’s Pete Thamel and announced in an Indiana Athletics press release Thursday afternoon. Cignetti becomes the 30th head football coach in school history.
“I am excited to lead this program forward and change the culture, mindset, and expectation level of Hoosier football,” Cignetti said in the release. “I want to thank Director of Athletics Scott Dolson and President Pam Whitten, and I look forward to working with both in building something special at IU.”
After a 3-9 campaign, Indiana decided to pay a $15.5 million buyout for the remaining three years of former head coach Tom Allen’s contract and move in a different direction. In seven seasons, Allen accumulated a 33-49 record, and went just 3-24 in the Big Ten over the last three seasons.
Cignetti joins the Hoosiers from James Madison University, where he served as head coach for the past five years. In that time, Cignetti posted a 52-9 record, including a 31-4 tally within conference play.
In three years at the FCS level, Cignetti guided the Dukes to three consecutive Colonial Athletic Association titles. Since the program’s elevation to the Sun Belt Conference of the FBS in 2022, Cignetti’s success has endured.
James Madison has compiled a 19-4 record since its promotion, including a 13-3 mark within the Sun Belt. While the Dukes are ineligible to compete in the conference championship, they will make the program’ first ever bowl appearance.
On Thursday, Cignetti was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year. James Madison went 11-1 this season and came in at No. 24 in the most recent AP Poll.
“I am very excited to welcome Curt Cignetti as the head football coach at Indiana University,” Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson said. “We had a very talented and deep pool of candidates, and Curt stood out thanks to an incredible track record of success over more than four decades in college football.”
Cignetti — who played quarterback at West Virginia University — began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the University of Pittsburgh in 1983. From there, he went on to coach quarterbacks at Davidson University, Rice University, Temple University and Pittsburgh.
In 2000, Cignetti was hired at North Carolina State University as a quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator. He oversaw the development of longtime NFL signal caller Philip Rivers and aided in the recruitment of current Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, as well.
Seven years later, Cignetti went on to join Nick Saban’s initial coaching staff at the University of Alabama as a wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator. The Crimson Tide had six first-round draft selections within the 2008 recruiting class.
Cignetti’s first stop as head coach came at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he was hired in 2011 and spent six seasons. The Crimson Hawks went 53-17 in that time and earned a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title in 2012.
Cignetti then spent a pair of seasons as head coach of Elon University. The Phoenix, who also compete in the CAA, went 14-9 under Cignetti’s tutelage. In 2017, Cignetti garnered CAA Coach of the Year honors and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, granted to the top coach at the FCS level.
As a head coach, Cignetti, 62, has tallied a 119-35 record. Indiana will mark his first head coaching gig at the Power Five level, and his inaugural 2024 season will come at the beginning of the Big Ten’s expansion to 18 teams.