ECCC alumnus Sam Rutigliano to join MCC sports Hall of Fame


East Central Community College alumnus Sam Rutigliano, who coached high school, college, and professional football teams over a combined 46 years, including the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, will be inducted into the Mississippi Community College Sports Hall of Fame during a special ceremony scheduled Tuesday, April 23, at the Clyde Muse Center on the Rankin Campus of Hinds Community College.

Rutigliano came to East Central Junior College in January 1950 from Brooklyn, N.Y. He played football and basketball at East Central and went on to play football at the University of Tennessee and the University of Tulsa. He was selected to the ECCC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999.

Rutigliano was head coach of the Cleveland Browns from 1978 to 1984, being named NFL Coach of the Year in 1980. He later went on to be a football analyst for NBC Sports and ESPN. In 1988, he became head coach at Liberty University and was there for the next 11 years becoming the winningest coach in school history. He would then go on to be an assistant coach under Jack Bicknell for NFL Europe teams the Barcelona Dragons and the Scottish Claymores.

While he served as head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Rutigliano helped establish an innovative approach to helping athletes confront substance abuse. He teamed 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 to help Browns players. The Browns Inner Circle continues to serve as a template for all NFL teams today.

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.

Tickets to the banquet are $35. For more information, contact David LeBlanc, ECCC director of alumni relations and the foundation, at or call 601-635-6327.