Introduction of Rocky Carzo, presented by Don Megerle, Tufts Swimming Coach 1971-2004
Rocky Carzo energized the campus like a bolt of lightning when he arrived at Tufts in 1966.
Before coming to Tufts, Rocky had been working at the University of California Berkeley coaching big-time college football alongside future NFL legends Marv Levy and Bill Walsh. However, when the head coaching job at Tufts opened, his true commitment to the educational aspect of sports brought the Philadelphia native back across the country to begin a career as head coach of the football Jumbos and as a passionate advocate for Tufts Athletics.
At first, Rocky wasn’t quite sure what he had gotten himself into. Tufts Athletics was languishing a bit in the mid-1960s. The department budget and the quality of its facilities lagged behind those of its peers. The results showed on the football field, as Carzo’s football teams lost more than they won.
However, there was something special about this man. Even under difficult circumstances, his enthusiasm was contagious. He preached the importance of working hard, staying focused, and never forgetting to enjoy the experience.
When Harry Arlanson, the successful football coach and Athletic Director at Tufts for 20 years, retired in 1974, Rocky was the natural successor. And once in that role, Rock wasted no time expanding the athletic opportunities available to Tufts students. Women’s programs were upgraded and added, and Physical Education and intramural offerings were also improved. With a strong personal touch, he guided Tufts from the organizational changes of the 70s through the growth of women’s sports in the 1980s and into the prosperity of NCAA post-season play in the 1990s.
A firm believer in the academic-athletic balance established by Pop Houston, Carzo spread the philosophy of Tufts Athletics around the country by taking on leadership roles within the NCAA, including a term as Division III Vice President. He also served as President of the ECAC and held several leadership positions in the sport of football. Everybody in college athletics knew Rocky.
Among the many awards he received during his career as Director of Athletics, Rocky was one of the inaugural winners of the NACDA Athletic Director of the Year Award. He was inducted into the NACDA Hall of Fame in 2000. Rocky was so beloved when he retired in 1999 that there were three celebrations - one with the department, one on campus and one in a hotel ballroom to fit all of his family and friends.
It’s simply impossible to encapsulate what Rocky Carzo has meant to Tufts in a two-minute introduction. His vision, determination and personality shaped the athletics program from the day he first stepped on our campus in large part because of his empathy for and interest in people from every background.