Two inducted to New Kensington's Athletics Hall of Fame

Robert Howard, John DeRiggi named to 2024 inductee class
Four individuals stand smiling and posing for photo

Pictured from left to right is Robert "Bob" Howard, 2024 Penn State New Kensington Athletics Hall of Fame inductee; Renee Brown-Antonelli, athletic director at the campus; Arlene Hall, former director of academic affairs at the New Kensington campus and former interim chancellor of Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus; and John M. DeRiggi, 2024 Penn State New Kensington Athletics Hall of Fame inductee. Howard and DeRiggi were named as inductees to the New Kensington Athletics Hall of Fame's Class of 2024 during the annual athletics banquet on April 17.

Credit: Rebecca Dietrich

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Penn State New Kensington Athletics named two former campus coaches to its latest class of Hall of Fame inductees. Robert Kenneth Howard and John M. DeRiggi were honored as the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 on April 17 during the department’s annual athletics banquet

“This year's inductees truly embody a rich history and a profound impact on our campus,” said Renee Brown-Antonelli, athletic director at the New Kensington campus. “Bob and John stand out as true pioneers in the realm of sports at Penn State New Kensington. 

She continued, “Their legacy is deeply ingrained in our institutional knowledge, with a wealth of groundbreaking historical contributions to developing what we now know as the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) Moreover, their extensive connections to alumni, former players, faculty and staff align perfectly with our efforts to reengage the broader community. It's an honor to see both John and Bob nominated for this prestigious recognition.” 

Brown-Antonelli initiated the creation of the Hall of Fame when she took on the role of Athletic Director at the campus in 2022 and has been proud to see the initiative gain momentum each year. 

“This recognition not only honors our athletic department's storied past, but also serves as a celebration of our present achievements and a beacon for our future aspirations,” she said.  

Alumni and friends are encouraged to make nominations for consideration and review for future inductee classes. Nominations can be made by filling out the online Hall of Fame nomination form.  

Penn State New Kensington Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2023

Robert “Bob” Kenneth Howard 

Bob Howard is known in the Pittsburgh region and Penn State communities for his storied career that helped shape the landscape of sports and education on and off the New Kensington campus. For 27 years, Howard served as a member of the campus’ Sports and Exercise Department. In addition to being part of the academic realm, he also embraced coaching basketball, volleyball and tennis, while also helping to develop new athletic programs, cultivating conference championships and promoting the success of student-athletes.  

During his coaching tenure, his teams earned three Commonwealth Athletic Conference championships and three second-place finishes for basketball. In the Pennsylvania Junior College Athletic Association, he led the team to an appearance in the state finals. He was also named Basketball Coach of the Year in 1978-79 as a recognition to his leadership and mentorship. In volleyball, his teams reached the (Commonwealth Collegiate Athletics Conference (CCAC) State Championships five times, and in tennis, his team clinched a CCAC State Championship title.  

Beyond the courts, Howard was the founder of the Commonwealth Athletic Conference in 1967, a groundbreaking initiative that paved the way for the current PSUAC system. In addition, he co-founded the Western Junior College Athletic Association to expand opportunities for student-athletes across the region.  

In 1990, he was named to the Robert J. Scannell Roll of Honor, the highest accolade bestowed upon someone for their leadership within the PSUAC. 

Howard is an alumnus of Lock Haven University and the University of Pittsburgh.  

John M. DeRiggi 

John DeRiggi started his Penn State story as a student at the New Kensington campus, where he earned an associate degree in engineering. He would then go on to earn his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Point Park University.  

Athletics has always been a focus of DeRiggi’s life, as he was a member of the volleyball and physical fitness teams as a high school student at Penn Hills. He also played racquetball for more than 40 years, slow-pitch softball for 35 years and began competitive race-walking in 1998. In addition to being an athlete, he served as Assistant Head Coach of Physical Fitness at Penn Hills and Plum high schools for 17 years, along with serving as a volunteer volleyball coach for local church teams and adult leagues in the area.  

In 1998, DeRiggi returned to Penn State New Kensington as the Assistant Head Coach of the women’s volleyball team. He was promoted to Head coach the following year. His teams achieved success within the CCAC and Western Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference (WPCC). He would lead teams to be three-time winners of the CCAC Western Division (1999, 2000 and 2001); an undefeated regular season in both the CCAC and WPCC in 2000; CCAC Championship runner-up, WPCC North Division Champion, WPCC Champion and Pennsylvania Collegiate Ahtletic Association State Championship runner-up in 2000; 2001 CCAC Champions and WPCC Champion runner-up; and third place in the PSUAC championships in 2007. DeRiggi was named the WPCC Coach of the Year in 2000 and the 2001 CCAC Coach of the Year. He was also selected as Head Coach for WPCC All-Star teams in 2000 and 2001. He was inducted to the Penn Hills Sports Hall of Fame classes of 2007, 2014 and 2022.  

Outside of athletics, he owned and operated DeRiggi Landscaping and Remodeling for 40 years and resides in Plum with his wife of 49 years, Linda. They have two sons, John and Anthony, as well as two grandchildren.