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Rocco B. Commisso

  • Sport: Soccer
  • Decade Inducted: 2010s

Three time NCAA Men’s Soccer All-Ivy League Honoree and Owner and Chairman of the New York Cosmos.

Rocco Commisso is one of the most successful Italian immigrant entrepreneurs in America’s history. A member of the prestigious Forbes 400, his illustrious career in cable television spans 40 years. He is the Chairman and CEO of Mediacom Communications, which he founded in 1995 and today is the nation’s 5th largest cable television company, with operations in 22 states, 4,600 employees and annual revenues of over $1.9 billion.

Born in Calabria, Italy, Commisso immigrated to America at the age of 12. He attended Columbia University, earning both a BS in Industrial Engineering and a MBA from the Graduate Business School, where he was elected president of the student body and was the recipient of the prestigious Business School Service Award.

Commisso played soccer for Columbia from 1967-1970. He was a member of an undefeated freshman squad and served as Co-Captain of the 1970 team that made Columbia’s first ever appearance in the NCAA Playoffs. He also holds the distinction of scoring the first two NCAA tournament goals in program history. A three-time All-Ivy Honoree, Commisso earned an invitation to the 1972 U.S. Olympic Team trials.

Over his 40 years as an alumni supporter of Columbia soccer, the men’s program has been among the most successful in the Ivy League and among all major sports at the university. In the mid-1970’s, he co-founded Friends of Columbia Soccer, serving as its Chairman from 1978-1986, during which time Columbia won a record 8 straight Ivy Championships and became the only Ivy school ever to compete in the NCAA Championship Final game.

In 2004, the school’s newspaper, the Daily Spectator, listed Commisso among Columbia’s 250 greatest undergraduate alumni of all time. For years, Columbia has awarded an annual Men’s Soccer Prize in his name. The university recognized his contributions by naming its soccer venue the Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium in 2013 and inducting him into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2016. He was similarly recognized at the 2015 NYC Soccer Gala for his lifetime dedication to the game of soccer.

In January 2017, Commisso purchased a majority ownership stake in the New York Cosmos and became the club’s Chairman. The Cosmos are the most recognized American soccer brand in the world. Since beginning play at Yankee Stadium in 1971, the iconic club has won a record total of 8 professional soccer championships and brought some of the biggest stars in international soccer to the USA including Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer, Giorgio Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto, and more recently, Raúl and Marcos Senna.

Under Commisso’s leadership, the Cosmos organization has been a key partner in Street Soccer USA’s efforts to bring a wide range of free programs teaching life skills through the game of soccer to youth and young adults in low-income communities across the country.  In addition, Commisso has poured significant personal and corporate resources into funding educational opportunities for young people. Through Mediacom’s World Class Scholars Program, September 11th Memorial Scholarship Fund and Entrepreneur of Tomorrow Award, he has provided college scholarships to more than 1,700 students nationwide. In 2014, he established the Rocco B. Commisso American Dream Fund at his high school in the Bronx – Mount Saint Michael Academy – to ensure that the school can continue to recruit and educate deserving young men for generations to come.

Commisso serves on the board of directors for C-SPAN and Cyndx Networks, and previously served on the boards of CableLabs, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and the National Italian American Foundation. He is a past recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, theE&Y Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the Foreign Policy Association Medal,theGruppo Esponenti Italiani Friendship Award,the NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Vanguard Award for Distinguished Leadership, the cable industry’s highest honor. He has been inducted into the Cable Center, Broadcasting & Cable, and SUNY New Paltz Business School Halls of Fame.

Rocco B. Commisso was inducted in the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2018.