Billionaire Named New CCU Football Coach

By Paul Gable

Coastal Carolina University announced today that Joe Moglia, 62, former CEO and current Chairman of Wall Street firm TD Ameritrade, will be its new head football coach.

To call the announcement shocking is an understatement. Moglia, whose net worth is reportedly $1.2 billion, according to Forbes Magazine, is certainly the first billionaire to head up a Division I-AA college football program. Mark that as a first for CCU.

The announcement ends a three year quest during which Moglia left the financial services industry and returned to coaching football after a 25 year career on Wall Street. However, it is the quest and the number of years out of coaching that raises eyebrows.

East Carolina University Athletic Director Terry Holland told Forbes Magazine the number one rule for athletic directors when hiring a new coach is ‘at least win the press conference.’ Holland was a supporter of Moglia’s quest to become a head coach but admitted ‘hiring him would likely generate more questions than answers.’

Moglia coached high school and small college football for 16 years before leaving coaching to become a trader with Merrill Lynch in 1983. Moglia’s success on Wall Street is truly admirable. In 17 years with Merrill Lynch, Moglia rose to be a member of the firm’s executive committees for both institutional and private client business.

In 2001, Moglia moved to the position of CEO of Ameritrade Holding Corp. (now TD Ameritrade), a company he turned from failing to success. Client portfolios the company oversaw grew from $24 billion to $300 billion in those seven years while the firm’s capitalization grew from $700 million to $12 billion, according to financial industry analysts.

In 2008, Moglia stepped down as CEO of TD Ameritrade, retaining the title of Chairman, to begin his quest to become a college head football coach. He took a position of unpaid assistant/mentor with the University of Nebraska football team.

This wasn’t the first time Moglia thought about leaving the financial services industry. According to Forbes Magazine, Moglia considered leaving Ameritrade in 2004 when he heard the National Football League would be looking for a new commissioner and was one of the six finalists, in 2009, to chair the U.S. Olympic Committee.

After two years at Nebraska, Moglia moved to the United Football League, a minor professional league, in 2010 as head coach of the Virginia Destroyers. He became head coach and president of the Omaha Nighthawks in the same league in 2011. According to the UFL website, Moglia’s record was 1-3 with Omaha in the 2011 season.

Now Moglia is the new head football coach at CCU and, like Holland predicted, more questions than answers come with the announcement.

According to a source familiar with the decision, Moglia will not take a salary from CCU. Instead, that money will be used to hire assistant coaches. It was also stated that Moglia will help with the recruiting expenses of the CCU program. The same source said Moglia knows football and is passionate about being a college football head coach.

But can he recruit and can he coach college football at this level? When CCU fired head coach David Bennett a little over a week ago, President David DeCenzo attributed the firing to falling ticket sales, failure to consistently be ranked in the Top 20 of Division I-AA teams and that the energy and vitality are gone in the program.

How does a 62-year old rookie head coach with a strong background on Wall Street, but a weak one on the gridiron turn that around?

Admittedly, Moglia has strong leadership skills. He told Forbes that a head coach is CEO of the football program. He has to possess vision and strategy, be a great evaluator of talent, be able to mold a staff and players, be a great ambassador and handle himself under pressure.

These are all traits Moglia has demonstrated on Wall Street. Will they translate to leading CCU’s football program?

Only time will tell. Give CCU credit for audacity and daring and hope that translates into success on the gridiron.

Oh yes, any truth David Bennett will be the new CEO of troubled insurance giant AIG?