Gary Gait to take over the men’s program from Syracuse; Dave Pietramala would join as defensive coordinator
A massive and shocking upheaval has occurred in the male and female worlds of varsity lacrosse as Syracuse Women’s Lacrosse Head Coach Gary Gait is reportedly named the next Syracuse Men’s Program Head Coach, in replacement of legendary head coach John Desko. The news was first reported by Terry Foy of Inside Lacrosse.
Gait is of course considered the best player in the history of the Syracuse program and the sport of men’s lacrosse as a whole. He’s been the head coach of the Syracuse Women’s Program since 2008, guiding the program to three NCAA Championship games and eight Final Fours in 14 seasons. All programs won by NCAA tournaments, except one, have come with Gait at the helm. However, he has zero experience in the men’s college game and minimal experience in the professional men’s field game, which makes him an extraordinary hire in many ways.
Addition to shocking news; multiple reports have claimed that Dave Pietramala, the former Johns Hopkins coach and legendary player, is set to join the Gait staff as defensive coordinator. Pietramala left Hopkins last year after 20 years as the program’s head coach and 24 overall on the Hopkins program, all of which have seen him face the Orange as a player or coach.
There have been only four head coaches in the history of the Syracuse men’s program, which dates back to 1916. Laurie Cox was the first, having served 15 seasons as a coach, winning four USILA National Championships. Then it was passed down to Roy Simmons, who coached the team for an incredible 40 years, winning a USILA national title in 1957. He was replaced by his son, Roy Simmons Jr, the father of the modern Syracuse program, winning six NCAA National Championships. Championships and make 17 Final Fours, including a famous 16 consecutively. Simmons coached for 28 years, before being replaced by longtime assistant and former player Desko. Desko carried the torch with aplomb, winning five national championships in his first 11 seasons and making 9 Final Fours.
However, there has been a slow decline since then. The Orange haven’t won a title since 2009 and haven’t made a Final Four since 2013, their only one in that time. While the program continued to perform at an elite level and win games for much of that time, recent years have seen another downturn in form which has also coincided with problems off the field. As of 2018, the schedule was 29-18 and has not progressed outside of the first round of the NCAA tournament. Chase Scanlan, who wore the famous No.22 jersey, has been kicked from the squad this season following an arrest following a domestic incident late in the season.
This led many to believe that a change could be on the horizon, but the shock still came when news broke that it would be Gait who would take matters into his own hands. In some ways, that makes sense though. The four coaches named above were part of the Syracuse family. They never hired a player or coach other than Syracuse to be the head coach. With a lack of options from Syracuse alumni in the men’s game, they brought in a famous former player and someone in the office right now who has seen incredible success. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out in the future.
Speculation will also ensue on the direction the Syracuse women’s program will take. They had huge success with Gait and were in the national championship game just over a week ago. They have several of their best players from this year’s squad coming back for next year. Thanks to Gait it has become one of the preeminent jobs and programs in women’s lacrosse and you imagine it will be a coveted job. Does the same principle of staying with the family apply to the women’s team? If so, Kayla Treanor, Acacia Walker-Weinstein’s main assistant with the Boston College women’s program who beat Syracuse for the national title a week ago and former legendary Syracuse player herself, could be in. line. Michelle Tumolo, another former Orange granny who currently serves as the head coach at Wagner where she is 29-15 in three seasons and played in the NCAA tournament in 2019, could also be on the line. choose to come out, are they running Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina, who helped the Seawolves program take a similar meteoric rise to Gait’s with the Orange? Spallina’s son Joey is also a current Orange engagement for the 2023 class. It will be a story to follow.
Current Syracuse assistant Pat March is expected to remain on the staff as offensive coordinator by Brent Ax.