No titles cost Seaman his job Disgruntled alumni force Hopkins' move

June 25, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Although Tony Seaman officially resigned as Johns Hopkins lacrosse coach on Monday, several sources inside and outside the program confirmed he was forced out by the school's alumni for not winning a national championship in his eight-year tenure.

Called in by student affairs dean Larry Benedict during the middle of the Hopkins lacrosse camp, Seaman was shocked when told to step down in a seven-minute meeting, two college lacrosse sources said.

"He was told it was time for a change," one of the two sources said. "Just read between the lines. It's a sad day for lacrosse and a pitiful one for Hopkins."

Seaman, who will remain with the Blue Jays for another year as a consultant, declined to comment on any specifics about the situation, only saying: "It's the feeling by everyone that it's time for a change. I would like to coach lacrosse again. My record speaks for itself."

Hopkins athletic director Tom Calder said that the department would not comment on Seaman's removal outside the release sent out Monday.

Hopkins, which plans to select a new coach by mid-July, has compiled a short list of coaching candidates that includes Princeton coach Bill Tierney, a Hopkins assistant from 1985 to 1987, who has won five national titles in the past seven years with the Tigers; UMBC coach Don Zimmerman, who coached the Blue Jays from 1984 to 1990; North Carolina assistant athletic director of operations Willie Scroggs, a Hopkins player in the late '60s and former Tar Heels coach; and Washington College coach John Haus, a Blue Jays assistant under Zimmerman.

Last night, when asked if he is interested in the Hopkins job, Tierney had no comment. And then there's Zimmerman, who played at Homewood in 1975 and 1976 and coached Hopkins to three national titles, including its last in 1987.

"I think any time when you're an alumnus and a former coach, you have to look into it," said Zimmerman, who stepped down at Hopkins in 1990 after a 6-5 season. "I am very pleased the way things have progressed at UMBC, but you have to look at what is the best thing to do professionally and for your family."

Towson University, which has Haus as a finalist for its coaching vacancy, has opened talks with Seaman. The Tigers expect to name their new coach within a week.

Seaman, who compiled a 77-33 record, is the third-winningest coach in Hopkins history and directed the Blue Jays to four final four appearances. However, Seaman's final two years -- both of which ended in overtime losses in the NCAA quarterfinals -- marked the first time the Blue Jays failed to advance to the semifinals since 1990 and 1991.

That fact, coupled with the Blue Jays' 11-year NCAA championship drought, prompted many alumni to call Hopkins president William Brody and instigate Seaman's dismissal. National titles are the benchmark at Hopkins, the most storied lacrosse program, which has won an NCAA-best seven championships.

Nevertheless, Seaman posted the fifth-best record among coaches over the past eight seasons and would have been the only coach to have three first-team All-Americans returning next season.

And his forced resignation despite these achievements and a .700 winning percentage has created a negative wave throughout the lacrosse community, according to several Division I coaches contacted yesterday.

"Tony Seaman is hands down one of the top guys in our field," Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. "Tony knows this game end to end. It's a troubling development in our sport."

"I'm disappointed in the news," Loyola coach Dave Cottle said. "It was clear to me that every time we played Johns Hopkins that they were a well-coached team."

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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