Men’s lacrosse coaches will not return in 2015

by Katie Jarrett and Josh Koenig | 6/30/14 5:38pm

And then there were none. With the departures of assistant coaches Michael Bocklet and Tim McIntee, the men’s lacrosse program will be without its former coaching staff in the upcoming year. Head coach Andy Towers’s departure was announced last week and director of varsity athletic communications Rick Bender confirmed the departures of Bocklet and McIntee yesterday.

The Valley News reported that Towers was fired with a year remaining on his contract. Towers declined to comment outside of business hours following the announcement and did not respond to additional requests for comment in the following days. Last season, with Towers as head coach and Bocklet and McIntee in their second seasons, the Big Green finished 2-10 overall, 0-6 in Ivy League play.

Athletic director Harry Sheehy wrote in an email that the decision to part ways with Towers, who led the Big Green to a 20-47 overall record in his years running the program, was finalized on June 23. Conversations regarding Towers’s return to the program had been “ongoing,” as such conversations are with all coaches each year, Sheehy wrote.

“Certainly this year was a factor but we do not look at snapshots but rather broader trends,” Sheehy wrote.

Sheehy, citing department policy, would not discuss specifics of Towers’s contract status. Former Big Green men’s lacrosse head coach Bill Wilson did not respond to five requests for comment.

Towers has a long history with Ivy League lacrosse. A two-time first team All-American and 1993 Ivy League Player of the Year at Brown University, Towers served as an assistant coach at his alma mater before coaching at Yale from 1999-2001. Before joining the Big Green, Towers served as head coach at the University of Hartford in 2004.

Towers came into the head coaching position at Dartmouth determined to change the culture of the lacrosse team. At the time, he said that he aimed to make lacrosse a “lifestyle” for his athletes. Four former and current players, three of whom had Towers as a coach for their entire Dartmouth careers, spoke positively of their time in the program. Eight additional former and current players did not respond by press time and two declined to comment.

“From an athletic director’s point of view, I can understand the decision,” Pat Flynn ’13 said. “The win-losses didn’t reflect the type of energy he put into the program.”

Flynn, a two-time team captain, said that he considered Towers both a great coach and a great friend.

Chris Costabile ’13, another former player and captain, said he heard that Towers would not be returning from a current rising senior on the team.

“I think that if you look at the program from a win-loss perspective and from the outside, people would not be surprised,” Costabile said. “But if you played for him for four years, saw his passion and how great a guy he was, then it’s not something you would want to see.”

Costabile said that his strongest memories of Towers came from the one-on-one meetings the two had. He said that Towers would always ask him about his life and academics first before discussing lacrosse.

J.P. Garry ’13 and K.C. Beard ’16, who both played for Towers, echoed Costabile in noting that Towers related to them outside of lacrosse.

“On a personal level, he stuck his head out time and time again for players,” Garry said. “You don’t encounter that too much in life.”

Chris Bates ’90, head coach at Princeton University and Lars Tiffany, head coach at Brown University, noted their respect for Towers while discussing the league’s competitiveness. Coaches at Yale University, Harvard University, Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania did not return requests for comment by press time.

Bates said that it was always difficult for his team to prepare to play Dartmouth even when Big Green players were plagued by injuries. Describing the Ivy League as “a bear of a league,” he said that the margin for error was thin.

Tiffany also spoke to the importance of win-loss records in college sports. Like Bates, he praised the effort of Towers’s players, noting that he never saw the Big Green “roll over.”