Ex-coach Dirrigl sues Loyola

Fired last year, he seeks $3.5 million

College lacrosse

April 08, 2006|By GARY LAMBRECHT | GARY LAMBRECHT,SUN REPORTER

Bill Dirrigl, the former Loyola College men's lacrosse coach who was fired in December after taking a one-month leave of absence for personal reasons, has filed a lawsuit seeking $3.5 million in damages from the school.

The suit, filed this week in Baltimore City Circuit Court, includes accusations that Loyola breached Dirrigl's contract and defamed him by letting him go and naming former top assistant Charley Toomey the Greyhounds' head coach on Dec. 21.

Toomey, who declined to comment last night, is named as a defendant in the suit.

The suit claims Loyola incorrectly determined Dirrigl was engaged in illegal drug use, and caused "rampant and harmful rumors" of such use, leading to his dismissal. It states that Toomey and the school president, Rev. Brian Linnane, spread such rumors.

Dirrigl, who could not be reached to comment last night, acknowledges that he suffers from an anxiety disorder -- which The Sun reported in January -- that he asserts was brought on by a series of family health problems and tragedies dating to the summer of 2003. Dirrigl claims he began using an inhaler to treat the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, which included accelerated heart rate, vomiting and sleeplessness.

The suit claims that, after Dirrigl received a positive performance review by Loyola administrators during the week of Oct. 29, several players approached Toomey with concerns about the health and behavior of Dirrigl. It also states Toomey observed Dirrigl using the inhaler on Nov. 15 and told the team captains and Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan that Dirrigl was smoking marijuana.

Dirrigl denied illegal drug use and offered to submit to a toxicology screen, which he claims he did independently. Dirrigl says the test was negative, after which he revealed his disorder to school administrators. Dirrigl also claims that Loyola declined to conduct its own drug test.

The suit seeks $1.5 million in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages from Loyola and Toomey for defamation.

Neither Boylan nor Kathryn Goldman, Dirrigl's attorney, could be reached.

Dirrigl, who coached the Greyhounds to a 25-26 record in four seasons, signed a five-year contract at Loyola in 2001, and later received an extension through the 2008 season. He earned a salary of $93,200 in his first season.

Dirrigl worked in some coaching capacity at Loyola for 13 seasons, including nine as an assistant. He left to become head coach at Rutgers, but returned after one season there to replace Dave Cottle after he took over at the University of Maryland in September 2001.

In four years, Dirrigl failed to get the Greyhounds into the NCAA tournament, where Cottle had guided Loyola for his last 14 seasons. Loyola posted a combined 9-16 record in Dirrigl's last two seasons.

Fifth-year senior midfielder and co-captain Craig Georgalas told The Sun in January, "I love [Dirrigl]. I really respect him. It hurts for him not to be here. It's something none of us thought we'd ever say, that some sort of change had to happen. It couldn't go on the way it was going on."

gary.lambrecht@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Julie Bykowicz contributed to this article.

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