One day after his Maryland's men's lacrosse team was upset in the NCAA quarterfinals, Dave Cottle resigned as coach Sunday.
Cottle told The Baltimore Sun he met with his team Sunday afternoon to announce his decision, and later said he has no immediate plans. The Terps (12-4) were the No. 3 seed in the 16-team tournament, but lost to unseeded Notre Dame (9-6), 7-5, on Saturday at Princeton.
On Saturday, Cottle completed the final year of his contract. According to an official at the Maryland, Cottle had been told by athletic director Deborah Yow that the Terps had to make the Final Four this season or it likely would be the coach's last at Maryland.
"Coach Cottle, Senior Associate AD Michael Lipitz and I met this afternoon to discuss the future of the men's lacrosse program, as we did one year ago at the end of the 2009 season," Yow said to The Sun in a statement. "Coach Cottle has stepped down from his role as head coach. A national search will begin immediately, with Michael Lipitz chairing the search process. We thanked Dave for the class with which he represented Maryland during his tenure here, and he expressed appreciation for the opportunity to coach at Maryland and wished us well in the search process."
Cottle declined to get into specifics about any talks with Yow.
"I have decided to step aside as head coach of the University of Maryland's men's lacrosse program," he said. "I have enjoyed my nine years as a head coach. We have eight NCAA tournament and three Final Four appearances and two ACC championships. I'd like to thank all my former assistants and staff. I have developed many tremendous relationships with many Maryland alumni and former coaches, and have some of the finest parents of any program I've ever had. I am extremely lucky to have coached all my players at Maryland, and I'd like to thank particularly all of the 2010 team for all their hard work."
"We taught our players not only to compete, but to be good students and good people. Whoever will be the next coach will be lucky to coach such great men who will compete every day and have a desire to win. I will always root for the Terps, and the saddest part is that I will not be in the locker room or on the field with this team."
Cottle, a Baltimore native, entered 2010 seventh among active coaches with 268 wins. When Cottle was hired to replace Dick Edell at Maryland in September 2001, he was expected to win a national championship or at least consistently keep Maryland in the Final Four.
Cottle did that early in his tenure, advancing to the Final Four in 2003, 2005 and 2006, but this year marked only the second time that a Maryland senior class did not participate in a national semifinal since the tournament began in 1971.
The Terps' loss to Notre Dame was reminiscent of the team's Final Four loss in 2006. Both times, the team's offense failed to show up. After the loss Saturday, there were a lot of tears shed in Maryland's locker room. It was an emotional scene again Sunday, according to junior defenseman Max Schmidt.
"Obviously, this is hard news to swallow," Schmidt said. "As much as you have heard about it potentially, it's still hard to deal with. You don't want to deal with this as a player or a coach. Our meeting [with Cottle] was emotional because he was so dedicated to the program, and he was always willing to lend a helping hand or put a hand on your shoulder, regardless if it was about athletics, academics or socially. He was a tremendous coach."
Schmidt said he knew something was about to happen because of an impromptu meeting called by the team captains.
"There was skepticism around him and the program this year," Schmidt said. "There was a lot of emotion in that room today. I thought I had cried all my tears yesterday, but there were more today. We just lost a group of seniors who were outstanding leaders, and now we have to take all of this [in] in a 24-hour period. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room, not even the coach."
The Maryland job, because of its location and tradition, is one of the most appealing in lacrosse -- on par with those at Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Syracuse and North Carolina. Yow said there is no list of candidates yet, but Lipitz might be able to organize a search committee within a week. Former Syracuse star midfielder Gary Gait, a former women's assistant at Maryland, has consistently been mentioned as a possible candidate for the Maryland job, along with Notre Dame's Kevin Corrigan.
"We have absolutely no idea who will be the new head coach," Schmidt said. "Under the circumstances, it's still a great job and I can't imagine coaches not jumping at it."
Cottle said Sunday that he has no immediate plans, but he might become a leading candidate for the recent opening as Penn State's new coach. Before coming to Maryland, Cottle spent 19 seasons as the head coach at Loyola, where he led the Greyhounds to 14 straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a pair of berths in the national semifinals.
Entering 2010, Cottle had an overall mark of 268-111, which gave him a .707 winning percentage. In the previous eight seasons at Maryland, 26 Terps earned 45 All-America honors.