Bill Dirrigl has spent nine of his 13 seasons as a lacrosse coach at Loyola College, which today will introduce him as the successor to Dave Cottle.
Whereas Maryland's hiring of Cottle took weeks and was protested by the Terps' players, Loyola moved quickly to secure the services of Dirrigl, the first name on a short list of candidates. Athletic director Joe Boylan said that Dirrigl was the only prospect who was formally interviewed for the position, and his hiring is expected to be met with near unanimous approval at Evergreen.
"To me, it's not a dream job," Dirrigl said. "It's home."
Dirrigl was an assistant coach at Loyola when most of its upperclassmen committed to play for the Greyhounds.
The only apparent dissatisfaction with the move came from Rutgers, where Dirrigl became head coach in the summer of 2000. He spent just one season in charge of the Scarlet Knights, and the university's administration reluctantly allowed Loyola to talk to Dirrigl, who said that no other job in the game would have led him to relocate again so soon.
"It was not what I wanted to do when I went to Rutgers," Dirrigl said. "Rutgers was good to me. It made a commitment to lacrosse, and it made a commitment to my family. I did everything I could in the last 14 months to return it to national prominence."
When he left his adopted hometown of Baltimore last year, Dirrigl said he did not envision a job opening at Loyola in 2001. Cottle went to Maryland after Dick Edell, the Terps' long-time coach, was forced into retirement by a neurological disorder.
"No one could look into a crystal ball and see Dick Edell getting ill," Dirrigl said. "No one could see Dave Cottle leaving Loyola. I put my heart and soul into everything I do, and that's why it's so difficult to leave Rutgers University. It is an honor for me to take this job, and I know I've got awfully big shoes to fill."
Loyola began its string of 14 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament under Cottle in 1988, when Dirrigl was an honorable mention All-America midfielder on Syracuse's national championship team. Within months, Cottle hired Dirrigl as Loyola's first full-time assistant, for $10,000.
"I loved it," Dirrigl said.
In 1990, Dirrigl's second season at Loyola, the Greyhounds had their best season ever and reached the NCAA final. He used that campaign as a springboard to his first head-coaching position, at Franklin & Marshall. After three seasons at the Division III program in Lancaster, Pa., Dirrigl returned to Loyola in 1994. He was elevated to associate head coach in 1998, and was with the Greyhounds through the 2000 season.
Rutgers, which last went to the NCAA tournament in 1991, lured Dirrigl with additional scholarships and funding. His one season in New Brunswick, N.J., resulted in a 5-8 record. The Scarlet Knights beat UMBC, 10-7, at the start of a three-game winning streak that improved their record to 5-3, but lost their last five games.