Matt Gardner returned to Sacred Heart as the team's offensive coordinator and running backs coach in January 2017.
"I'm pleased to welcome Coach Gardner back to our coaching staff and excited to have him as our offensive coordinator," said Nofri. "He was instrumental in the resurgence of our program and his knowledge of our schemes and personnel make him the perfect fit as we move into the future."
This is Gardner's second stint at Sacred Heart. He was an assistant coach from 2008-2015, serving as Quarterbacks Coach and Recruiting Coordinator from 2012-14 and Passing Game Coordinator from 2015. The SHU offense led the Northeast Conference in total offense in 2013 and 2014 during both of its NEC Championship years. He coached and mentored RJ Noel, who was a three-time All-NEC First Team quarterback and the 2013 NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Gardner comes back to SHU after serving as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Lake Forest College. This past season, the Foresters had their best offensive season statistically averaging 38.6 points per game and 439.9 yards per game. He also coached and mentored wide receiver Alex Pasiewicz, who was named a 2016 First Team All-American by D3Football.com and the American Football Coaches Association.
"I'm excited to return to Sacred Heart," Gardner said. "The university has given so much to me in the past. I'm looking forward to getting back to work with Coach Nofri and the rest of his staff to keep up the current success for Pioneer football both on and off the field."
He came to Sacred Heart in 2008 after four coaching seasons with the Colorado Crush of the Arena Football League where he coached the wide receivers, linebackers and oversaw all aspects of special teams. Following the 2004 and 2005 Crush seasons, Gardner served as linebackers coach at Division III Fitchburg State College. He helped the New England Football Conference school reach back-to-back appearances in the NEFC championship game and ECAC North Atlantic Bowl. In 2005, the Falcons were the conference's top ranked defense.
Prior to joining the Crush, Gardner spent one season coaching wide receivers and assisting with special teams at his alma mater, Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. Gardner played wide receiver for four seasons at Randolph-Macon from 1999-2002. He earned his Master's Degree from Sacred Heart University in May 2011.
Sacred Heart went 6-5 in 2016 for its fourth-consecutive winning season.