RIT women’s coach McDonald given three-year extension

Rochester Institute of Technology women’s coach Scott McDonald signed a three-year contract extension Tuesday that will see him behind the Tigers’ bench through the 2014-15 season.

Last season, McDonald led the Tigers to their first Division III championship tournament appearance in school history, setting a Division III record with 28 wins. The Tigers finished the season with a 28-1-1 mark, defeating Norwich 4-1 on March 17 to claim their first NCAA title. The Tigers opened and ended the year with two 14-game winning streaks and were the No. 1 team in the nation for 18 weeks during the season.

In his six seasons as head coach at RIT, McDonald has compiled an overall record of 135-22-10 and is the Division III all-time leader with a .835 winning percentage. He is RIT’s all-time leader in coaching victories and earned his 100th win at RIT on Jan. 29, 2011 against Buffalo State. He became the second fastest coach in Division III history to reach that milestone (128 games).

In 2010, McDonald led the Tigers to its first ECAC West championship, a trip to the Division III national championship game and the program’s first No. 1 ranking. RIT finished 26-2-2 and boasted three All-Americans.

RIT has a 54-3-3 record over the last two seasons and announced its intention to make the leap to Division I on March 20. The Tigers will join College Hockey America for the 2012-13 season and open the season with a pair of home games against perennial power Mercyhurst on Sept. 28-29. This season, RIT is eligible for CHA post-season play, but not NCAA post-season play. In 2014-15, RIT will be eligible for NCAA post-season play.

“We are delighted to have coach McDonald lead our women’s hockey program into the Division I era,” said RIT senior vice president for student affairs Dr. Mary-Beth Cooper in a statement. “His contributions and outstanding recruiting efforts will have continued payoffs at the next level of play. His proven record of success at the Division III level sets the stage for this significant move for our athletic program.”

McDonald, the 2011 ECAC West coach of the year, has led the Tigers to three Division III tournament berths and two consecutive ECAC West championships. The Tigers have won at least 19 games in each of his six seasons behind the bench and have won at least 20 games four times.

Under McDonald’s tutelage, the Tigers have also excelled in the classroom and have become active members in the community. On Jan. 21-22, 2011, the Tigers broke a Division III regular-season attendance record with a capacity crowd, raising $10,219 to help “Black Out Heart Disease.” In 2010 and 2012, both the men’s and women’s teams, along with Zeta Tau Alpha, combined to raise over $45,000 for cancer research, as part of the “Real Tigers Wear Pink” promotion.

A 2000 graduate of Niagara University, McDonald played defense for the Purple Eagles — and then-coach and former standout RIT defenseman Blaise MacDonald — from 1996-2000. He was part of the school’s inaugural freshman and first graduating classes as a Division I program. During his senior year, he helped Niagara, in only its fourth season, to an NCAA Tournament at-large bid, beating New Hampshire in the northeast regional.

McDonald later served as an assistant at Utica for one season before moving to RIT to serve as the assistant coach for the RIT men’s program from 2003-06.

McDonald is set to become the only person in NCAA history to play at the Division I and III level and coach at both divisions on both the men’s and women’s sides.

“Over the last nine years, RIT has given me a great opportunity to coach at every level,” said McDonald in a statement. “I am excited to see how we stack up against the best teams right away at the Division I level.”