Maryland, Towson lacrosse coaches on the hot seat

Cottle, Seaman both at end of their contracts

March 12, 2010|By Edward Lee | edward.lee@baltsun.com

Saturday's game between the visiting Towson men's lacrosse team and No. 6 Maryland figures to be a heated affair.

The same might be said of the seats underneath both coaches.

When the Tigers and Terps clash for the 32nd time at Byrd Stadium in College Park at 11 a.m., the outcome could be one more factor in determining the futures of Tony Seaman and Dave Cottle.

Cottle, hired in 2001, and Seaman, who has been coaching Towson for 12 years, are in the final year of their respective contracts.

It would seem to be a precarious situation for two men ranked first and third among Division I coaches for most NCAA tournament appearances (Cottle has 21, Seaman 20) and in the top eight in career wins among active coaches.

But the Tigers have missed out on the postseason in three of the past four years, and Seaman, who signed a three-year extension in 2007, had to make his case to the administration to remain head coach after the 2009 season.

Cottle has been the target of mounting criticism for not leading the Terps to a national championship despite boasting top-10 recruiting classes almost on a yearly basis.

Both coaches said they are focused on the present, not the future.

"Right now, we're game by game, and I love doing what I do and doing it with people whom I have a great deal of pride in and positive feelings about," Seaman said. "I've got two great assistant coaches and a bunch of good kids. So we'll see."

"I haven't thought about it one time," Cottle said. "That's never been what I've been interested in. Right now, we're just going to coach these kids."

Seaman and Cottle both have impressive resumes.

The only coach in Division I history to guide three different schools to the NCAA tournament, Seaman has an overall record of 253-150 (.628) in 29 years and a mark of 89-77 (.536) with the Tigers. Under Seaman, Towson has qualified for the NCAA tournament five times and won three Colonial Athletic Association championships.

Several Towson players lobbied for Seaman last May, and junior attackman Tim Stratton said the players understand the tenuous situation that Seaman is in.

"He doesn't go out and say that, and no one really talks about it, but we all want to have the same coaching staff next year, especially the kids who came in to play for him," Stratton said. "We don't want to see him go. So it's definitely motivation for us."

Towson athletic director Mike Hermann didn't dismiss the notion that the Tigers need to qualify for the NCAA tournament to cement Seaman's stay.

"I think there is some safe ground," he said. "Clearly, if you make it into the NCAA tournament, I would probably consider that safe ground. Something short of that, I think that might be the ground where you would have to do some evaluation."

"Honest to God," Seaman said, "I don't even think about that right now. We'll talk about it at the end of the year and figure out what's going on in Tony Seaman's life."

Since 1988, Loyola and Maryland teams under Cottle have qualified for every NCAA tournament except for 2002, which was his first year with the Terps. After that, Maryland advanced to three final fours in four seasons, and the 2006 appearance in the national semifinals kicked in a two-year extension for Cottle through this season.

Cottle and athletic director Debbie Yow said there have been no discussions about a new contract.

"When the season is over, I'll sit down and talk to them," Cottle said. "But I have not sat down with them and told them 'no' or sat down with them and told them 'yes' or anything like that. None of that has ever happened. When it's over, I'll sit down and evaluate what I want to do, and they'll sit down and evaluate what they want to do."

"Coach Cottle is a terrific person and talented coach," Yow wrote in an e-mail. "By his choice, we are waiting until the end of the season to talk about an extension."

"It sickens me when I hear the talk," said Dick Edell, who stepped down after the 2001 season because of his health. "We're in a different era with the chat rooms and all that. Joe Blow can throw something out there and doesn't even have to put his name to it, and that's what I think Dave faces. I guess it comes with the territory."

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