Rocco B. Commisso will be inducted into the National Italian Amercian Sports Hall of Fame Nov. 3. (FrontRowSoccer.com Photo)
NEW YORK – Former Columbia University men’s soccer player and Cosmos owner Rocco B. Commisso will be inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in Chicago Saturday, Nov. 3.
Commisso, the founder, chairman and CEO of Mediacom, will be enshrined alongside former New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi, MMA legend Gina Carano and Illinois high school basketball coach Gene Pingatore. Joining the celebration will be some of America’s most recognizable sports personalities, including Tommy Lasorda, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, and Mike Piazza.
The 41st annual induction will take place at the Hyatt-Regency in Chicago.
“We are extremely proud of Rocco’s induction into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame,” former Columbia star soccer players Amr Aly and Charles Balsamo said in a statement. “Rocco has secured his rightful spot of this over 40-year old institution, and joins other great Italian sports figures including Joe DiMaggio, Vince Lombardi, Mario Andretti, Phil Esposito, Bobby Valentine and Jim Valvano.”
Commisso began his career at Columbia in the fall of 1967 after growing up in Calabria, Italy, and migrating to New York at the age of 12. He went on to earn All-Ivy League honors three times. In his senior season (1970), Columbia went 9-4, as Commisso captained the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Upon his 1971 graduation from what is now the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Commisso began his career at Pfizer, before returning to Columbia Business School and earning an MBA in 1975. After working at Chase Manhattan Bank and Royal Bank of Canada, he became the executive vice president, CFO and director of Cablevision in 1986. Commisso grew Cablevision from the 25th largest cable company in the country to the eighth, with more than 1.3 million customers before its merger with Time Warner.
In 1995, Commisso founded Mediacom Communications Corp., helping to bring television to the smaller and underserved American communities in the Midwest and southern states. The company went public in 2000 and has more than 4,500 employees. It is the fifth largest U.S. cable company serving 1.3 million customers and has annual revenues of $1.4 billion.
Along with his business acumen, Commisso has stayed close to the Columbia program while becoming a fixture in the New York City soccer scene. He served as the chairman of Friends of Columbia Soccer from 1978-86, before the home venue was named in his honor in 2013. After being honored at the New York City Soccer Gala in 2015, Commisso purchased Cosmos in 2017.
“We are so very excited for Rocco and his family to receive the nomination of induction into the NIAHOF,” current Columbia men’s head coach Kevin Anderson said. “As we at Columbia have learned over time, Rocco is so instrumental in all that he does and in the communities he touches. I am certain that this nomination is among his family’s greatest honors. We look forward to celebrating this momentous event with Rocco and his family.”