Cottle to stay, much to delight of Loyola AD

October 25, 1994|By BILL TANTON

Joe Boylan is upbeat, smart, personable and fun to be with. In other words, he's one beautiful guy.

You realize that after you've known him for, oh, five minutes or so, although I first met him maybe 30 years ago.

Because Boylan is so darned likable, a lot of people have anguished with him over recent developments at Loyola College, where he is director of athletics.

Boylan (Milford Mill High '56, Lafayette College '60) spent 17 years at Rutgers as an assistant athletic director. In 1990 he became athletic director at Loyola College, back in his old hometown.

During Boylan's tenure, the Loyola athletic program has prospered but there have been serious setbacks.

The legendary president who hired him, the Rev. Joseph A. Sellinger, S.J., died on April 19, 1993.

When Boylan went looking for a basketball coach for the '93-'94 season, he asked Xavier athletic director Jeff Fogelson what he would do if he lost his coach, Pete Gillen.

"I'd walk right down the hall and hire Pete's assistant, Skip Prosser," said Fogelson.

Boylan is no dummy. He figured if this Prosser fellow was good enough for Xavier, he would be good enough for Loyola. So he hired him.

And a good hire it was. Prosser led Loyola to its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Jeff Fogelson is no dummy either. Neither does he say things he doesn't mean.

So when Petey Gillen quit last spring to go to Providence College, Fogelson did what he said he would do -- he hired Prosser back at Xavier.

If there's one man who wouldn't leave Boylan it would have to be lacrosse coach Dave Cottle.

In his 12 years there, Cottle has made Loyola a perennial NCAA playoff team that went to the finals in 1990 (and lost to Syracuse, 21-9).

Cottle leave? Nah. Local boy. Northern High, Salisbury State. His parents come to every Loyola home game. Wife, Lynn, local. Cottles and two daughters happy living in Baldwin.

But last week there was Dave Cottle packing his bag for a flight to New England to talk with the people at the University of Massachusetts, who were thirsting to hire him.

That was Cottle's second visit. The first had been for the job interview. Last week Dave and his wife went north to look the place over and decide whether they wanted to relocate. In Baltimore, Joe Boylan held his breath.

Last Friday, Cottle walked into Boylan's office. "I'm staying," Cottle said. It was the best news Boylan had had in a while.

"The timing wasn't right," Cottle was saying at his office at Loyola yesterday. "For me to leave now, in the middle of recruiting and fall practice, wouldn't have been the right thing to do. If this had come along in June, I might have felt different."

Timing. Some say it's everything.

During the summer, Cottle was as an assistant to head coach Tony Seaman, of Johns Hopkins, on the U.S. team that won the World Games in England.

The team had four UMass grads including Mark Millon, who was voted the Best and Fairest Player in the World -- and who returned to the United States and advised UMass to go after Cottle.

Why would Cottle want UMass?

It's a step up from Loyola, athletically. UMass has a 16,000-seat stadium; Loyola doesn't have a real stadium. UMass was ranked No. 8 in basketball in last year's final regular-season poll (Cottle loves basketball).

Most importantly, UMass has decided to stop piddling around in lacrosse (two playoff appearances in the last four years) and go for broke.

"We plan to increase our scholarships for lacrosse," said assistant AD Al Rufe, chair of the search committee for the lacrosse job. "We hope to add an artificial surface practice field for all our teams. We need that in the early spring. We're sorry things just didn't work out with Dave Cottle."

Rufe, a onetime soccer and track man at Mount St. Mary's, will come up with a good coach. He's talking with Duke's Mike Presler, Hobart's B. J. O'Hara, Notre Dame's Kevin Corrigan and the coach of Salisbury State's NCAA Division III champions, Jim Berkman.

If Loyola had lost Skip Prosser and Cottle within months of each other, last year might have been seen as the high-water mark of an athletic program that might not be repeated for a long time to come.

Lacrosse would not have collapsed at Loyola if Cottle had left. As Cottle said: "It's a program now."

To find a successor, Boylan could have done what Fogelson did at Xavier -- go down the hall to tap an assistant, Bill Dirrigl, who has head coaching experience at Franklin & Marshall.

Naturally Boylan is happier with Cottle, one of the sport's best coaches, sticking around and looking forward to a big year in '95. The team was one goal from making the Final Four last spring.

"We have five All-Americans returning," said Cottle, referring to goalie Tim McGeeney, Zach Thornton, Matt Dwan, Del Halladay and Brendan Fry. "We've got some good freshmen, too."

Boylan's hand-picked new basketball coach, Brian Ellerbe, has impressed everyone so far, but the first game is not until Nov. 26 when William and Mary visits.

Boylan has a soccer coach, Bill Sento, who will go for his 200th victory tomorrow (3 o'clock) when Loyola plays at Maryland.

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