|Director of Athletics Steps Down as Men's Hockey Coach with a Career Record of 202-84-28|
Leaving a lasting 12-year legacy of success on the ice, achievement in the classroom and involvement in the community, Manhattanville head men's hockey coach Keith Levinthal announced on Wednesday that he is stepping down from his coaching position before the start of the 2011-12 season.
Levinthal will remain in his position as Director of Athletics at Manhattanville, a position he has held for the last nine years. Eric Lang, currently the head coach of the nationally recognized Valiant women's hockey team, will take over the reins of the Valiant men's team effective immediately.
"I've been working very hard the last few months to make this change happen," Levinthal said. "It is not often that you get the opportunity to choose your successor, but I've known Eric for a long time and believe he is the right person to lead this program. He'll do a terrific job and I'll be his number one supporter. Despite the proximity to the start of the season, we are prepared for a great year."
"The opportunity and confidence Keith has shown in me to take over the men's hockey program is truly flattering, and I thank him for giving me this chance," Lang said. "Having grown up in this area, I have followed and admired the growth of a hockey program that was started just 13 seasons ago. It has been remarkable seeing it become one of the top programs in the country and also how Manhattanville has become a nationally recognized school because of it. Hockey has obviously been an important part of the fabric of this institution, and I am looking forward to the challenge of keeping this great winning tradition of hockey here at Manhattanville."
Levinthal leaves Manhattanville with a career record of 202-84-28 (.688) in 12 seasons, making him the 14th winningest coach in NCAA hockey history (all Divisions) in terms of winning percentage and sixth among Division III mentors. The winningest coach in Manhattanville history and the only coach Valiant hockey has ever known, he led the team to four NCAA Tournaments and has had the team over .500 in every season since the debut year of 1999-00. A two-time ECAC West Coach of the Year and AHCA Division III National Coach of the Year finalist, he posted a combined 131-38-18 (.749) record with two ECAC West regular-season titles and four ECAC West Tournament championships in the last seven seasons, leaving the team headed unequivocally in the right direction.
When he took the job nearly 13 years ago, Levinthal was working on a part-time salary and living in one of the school's dormitories. He jettisoned his team between local rinks for practices and games, and it took years before the Valiants found a permanent home. Despite never getting his promised on-campus rink (in partnership with the New York Rangers) and recruiting in a difficult college hockey area, Levinthal was able to turn Manhattanville into a destination for great players from around the country and the world.
"The past 12 years coaching the hockey team has been a life changing experience," Levinthal said. "As gratifying as the team's accomplishments have been, I could never compare them to the many fine young men I've come to know from all over the world. I will miss that part of the job the most. It's what makes being a college coach the best job in the world."
On the national level, Manhattanville has been ranked the #1 team in the country by USCHO.com in two different seasons, including 11 straight weeks during the 2006-07 season that prompted the New York Times to take notice and profile the program. In all, the team has spent 143 of the last 156 weeks ranked in the top 15 of the USCHO.com Division III National Poll and has played a major role in the proliferation of awareness of Manhattanville as an athletic and academic institution on both a regional and national level.
"When I accepted the position, I knew very little about Manhattanville," Levinthal noted. "When I started recruiting, most people had not heard of the school or still believed it was an all-women's college. Today it is very different. I believe hockey changed that image and gave the college national attention at a time when it needed it the most."
But the on-the-ice accomplishments are just a small part of what Levinthal and his men's hockey team have done since 1999. In the classroom, the Valiants have always been at the top of the class, posting a 3.60 cumulative GPA in Spring 2011 and boasting 16 ECAC West All-Academic honorees, boosting the program's all-time total to 111 All-Academic honorees in the last nine years. Exactly half of the team's 30 players last year had a GPA over 3.50, while in 12 years only one Valiant men's hockey player has earned a semester GPA below 2.00. Chris Mills '07 also achieved a program first in 2007 when he earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District honors.
"I often hear people make comments about how college students are different and more of a challenge than in the past; I don't believe that one bit," Levinthal added. "The men I've coached are the best of the best: our guys earned a 3.6 GPA last semester. I've had so many unbelievable guys come through here that it would be unfair to only mention a few."
The Valiants have also been constants in the local community, performing more than 1,000 hours of community service per year. The men's hockey team has also earned three NACIIIAA/Josten's Community Service Awards in the last five years, receiving Awards of Merit in 2007 and 2008 and also received an honorable mention in 2008 as well. The team's work with the Burke Rehabilitation Games and other local charities have been profiled in several Westchester County publications and have set an example for all Valiant programs to follow.
As Director of Athletics, Levinthal has steered Manhattanville into one of the best departments in the region, spearheading the program's move to the competitive Freedom Conference in 2007-08 and adding eight varsity programs into the fold in the last five years. On the field, he has guided Manhattanville to unprecedented success under his direction, as the Department of Athletics has collected 52 conference championships – 26 regular-season and 26 tournament titles – and made 22 NCAA Tournament appearances in the last eight years. In that span, the program has also produced 27 conference Players of the Year, 15 All-American selections (including four from his men's hockey team), and one National Player of the Year (men's hockey goalie Andrew Gallant '07 in 2007).