John Luckhardt, the “winningest” football coach in W & J history, served as Washington and Jefferson College’s head football coach for the past 17 seasons. His career coach record stands at 137-37-2, making him the fifth “winningest” coach in NCAA Division III football with a.784 winning percentage.
He began coaching at W & J in 1982, and rejuvenated W & J football. In 1984, he directed W & J to it’s first football title in 14 years and a berth in the NCAA championship playoffs.
Luckhardt-coached teams have won 14 Presidents’ Athletic Conference championships, including an unprecedented 11 consecutive, and have advanced to the NCAA playoffs on nine occasions. In 1992 and 1994, the Presidents advanced to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl and won the Lambert-Meadowlands Trophy as the best Division III team in the east. Additionally, Luckhardt marked his 100th career coaching victory during the 1994 season.
Among his honors have been a national Kodak Coach of the Year Award and a “Sportsman of the Year” award from the Eastern Football Officials. Luckhardt also is a 12-time recipient of the PAC Football Coach of the Year award and a record 11-time recipient of the Washington-Greene County “Coach of the Year” award. Additionally, the Wilkes-Barre Downtown Touchdown Club voted Luckhardt its “Coach of the Year” in 1992, 1993 and 1994.
Following the 1994 season and W & J’s second appearance in the Stagg Bowl, Danny Sheridan named Luckhardt the CNN “College Preview” Division III “Coach of the Year.”
Luckhardt was elected to the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Board of Trustees in 1994 and is one of two Division III coaches elected to the 15 member board that includes two Division II coaches and 11 Division I coaches. The board is the policy arm of the AFCA, the country’s largest coaching organization.
Since his retirement from the head coaching position at the end of the 1998 season, Luckhardt now serves as a director of development for special projects while continuing his duties as the College’s director of Physical Education and Intercollegiate Athletics and a professor of Physical Education.
Luckhardt is a graduate of Purdue University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. As a senior, he played center and linebacker on the Boilermakers’ Rose Bowl championship squad. Named a Distinguished Graduate by Purdue, he was on the All-Big Ten Academic Team.
He began his coaching career at Purdue as a graduate assistant and served as an assistant coach working with the backfield and receivers at Northern Illinois University. Luckhardt served as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Lehigh University before joining W & J. While Luckhardt was a member of the Lehigh coaching staff, the team compiled a 75-25-3 record, advanced to the playoffs five times, won four Lambert cups and won an NCAA National Championship.