Harvard's Tillman agrees to coach Maryland lacrosse

He becomes program's ninth head coach, succeeds Cottle

June 15, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

Harvard head coach John Tillman agreed Tuesday night to become the ninth head coach at Maryland.

The paperwork is still being completed, but an announcement could come as early as Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Terps athletic director Debbie Yow and senior associate athletic director Michael Lipitz, who heads the university's search committee, did not respond to e-mail inquiries. A school spokesman declined to comment, citing the absence of official paperwork required before confirming such a hire.

Tillman has guided the Crimson to a 20-19 overall record in three years. In 2009, the team won eight games, the most the program had accumulated since 2002.

Before Harvard, Tillman spent 12 seasons at Navy, including the past six as head assistant coach. In charge of the offense, he helped the Midshipmen earn four straight NCAA tournament berths from 2004 to 2007.

Maryland junior defenseman Max Schmidt sounded enthusiastic about the hiring of Tillman.

"I think it's great," he said. "I've heard a lot of great things about him, and I'm excited to meet him. I've heard through the grapevine that he's just an unbelievable coach. He came into Harvard and turned that place around. I heard that he's a great recruiter. He's got a lot of discipline — he was with Navy for 12 years — and I feel like that's something that we can use. That's what we need, some discipline. I think he's a going to be a good fit, a real good fit, and I'm looking forward to getting to know him and having him as our head coach."

Tillman's hiring could be seen as a shot in the arm for the Maryland program, which appeared to struggle to find a successor for Dave Cottle, who stepped down the day after the team's loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA quarterfinals May 15.

Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni, Bryant coach Mike Pressler and Syracuse women's coach Gary Gait — who was an assistant coach for the Terps women's lacrosse team before Cottle was hired in 2001 — each pulled his name from consideration for the vacancy.

Names such as those of Albany coach and former Maryland assistant Scott Marr, Stevenson coach and former Terps assistant Paul Cantabene and Syracuse assistant Lelan Rogers had been floated as potential candidates. But as of Monday, only Tillman and Virginia associate head coach Marc Van Arsdale had been confirmed as having been contacted by the search committee.

Tillman inherits a team that finished 2010 ranked 14th in the country in scoring (11.3 goals per game) and ninth in defense (8.4 goals per game). The Terps graduated just two starters in goalkeeper Brian Phipps and attackman Will Yeatman.

Tillman did not immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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