June 8, 2009

Bill Tierney Leaves Princeton for Denver

Coverage: Bill Tierney to Denver

* Bill Tierney Leaves Princeton for Denver
* Tanton: Tierney Changes Stripes, the Game
* Wiedmaier Wants Metzbower
* Metzbower Turns Down Princeton Job
* Man of the Hour: In Depth with Bill Tierney
* Trevor Tierney Confident in Dad, Denver
* DU's Brown: 'I Can't Wait Until September'

from staff reports

Bill Tierney, who led Princeton to six NCAA Division I championships as its men's lacrosse coach, has left the university to team up with his son and new assistant Trevor as the head coach at Denver.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Bill Tierney, who came to Central Jersey more than two decades ago and built a forgotten program into a six-time NCAA champion and 14-time Ivy League champion, is leaving Princeton University to become the head men's lacrosse coach at the University of Denver.
"I don't leave Princeton unfulfilled, unhappy, or disappointed in any way," Tierney said in a press release. "I leave Princeton for an opportunity that I never thought would come my way...I thank all of the great men who've coached with me, especially David Metzbower and Bryce Chase. I have all the confidence in the world that Princeton will choose the right leadership to follow in my path."

Tierney addressed Princeton lacrosse alumni in an e-mail prior to the announcement. In the e-mail, he cited family reasons -- including being able to worki with his son and new assistant coach Trevor Tierney -- and an interest in the sport's westward expansion.

He wrote:

"As you know, I have been offered many jobs over my 22-year tenure here. At 57 years old, and being offered this opportunity, however, I was confronted with something I wasn't looking for and had never imagined would happen. Helen (Tierney's wife) and I have always thought about going to Denver to retire. Having seen me on the sideline this year, you know I am nowhere near retirement, but the chance to go to that spot 10 or 15 years ahead of plan, while still being able to coach a great program, is enticing. Much of my family is out west. Trevor is in Denver, and will become my assistant coach, Brendan is working for Nike in Oregon, and Brianne is coaching at Cal Berkeley. Courtney will remain as a teacher and coach at the Pennington School, here in New Jersey...

"The lacrosse world, as you know, is taking huge steps out west. The chance for me to be a part of that growth, as an ambassador for the game, as well as for Denver, is very appealing.  If we are truly going to make lacrosse a nationwide sport, we need for some programs out there to become great. I think I can help Colorado lacrosse become the launching pad for that movement...

"They have made the tournament a couple times, but really want to move forward.  They have made it very appealing and comfortable for me to help them make that leap...

"I just know it is right for me, my family, the westward movement of lacrosse, and Denver University, which wants to be great in lacrosse."

Tierney went 238-86 as Princeton's head coach, including 13-3 in 2009, the last of his 22 seasons at Princeton. Including his three seasons as RIT, Tierney is 272-93 as a college head coach.
His resume also includes leading the United States team to the 1998 world championship. He is a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
In addition to six NCAA championships, Tierney took Princeton to eight NCAA finals, 10 NCAA Final Fours and 16 quarterfinal appearances, including one in 2009. Princeton had never reached the NCAA tournament prior to his arrival.
While at Denver, Tierney will coach with his son Trevor, an All-American goalie at Princeton who played on the 1998 and 2001 NCAA championships teams, who will be an assistant coach with the Pioneers. Tierney and his wife Helen will also be closer to his youngest daughter Brianne, who is an assistant coach under former Princeton great Theresa Sherry with California's women's lacrosse program, and youngest son Brendan, who lives and works in Seattle. His other daughter Courtney will continue to coach at the Pennington School near Princeton.
"The University and the athletic department obviously have bittersweet feelings about Bill's decision to take the head coaching position at Denver," Walters said. "We understand his interest in being closer to members of his family and working with his son Trevor, while simultaneously taking on the challenge of spreading the lacrosse Gospel to the Western states. We also recognize the extraordinary contributions he has made to Princeton University and the education of our student-athletes for 22 years."
Tierney inherited a team that won five Ivy League games in the four years prior to his arrival combined. Princeton had not won an Ivy League championship in the 20 years prior to his arrival, in the summer of 1987.
He told his first class of Princeton recruits that they would win a national championship together and then went out and made that happen with a 10-9 double overtime win over Syracuse on Memorial Day 1992.
Princeton followed with NCAA titles in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2001. In all, Tierney went 30-12 in NCAA tournament games, making him and Roy Simmons Jr. of Syracuse (with 34) the only coaches with at least 30 Division I NCAA tournament wins. Of Tierney's six NCAA championships, four were won in overtime.
"Bill has been a great leader of the Princeton lacrosse program and  a great ambassador for the athletic department and the game of lacrosse itself," Walters said. "At the same time, Princeton remains committed to the high quality of its men's lacrosse program, and as such we will now conduct a national search in as timely a manner as possible."

Tierney inherits a Denver team one year removed from the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers went 7-8 in 2009, their final in the Great Western Lacrosse League as they move to, ironically, the ECAC for 2010.

"We are thrilled to announce the hiring of Bill Tierney as the newest men's lacrosse coach at the University of Denver," athletic director Peg Bradley-Doppes said in a press release. "He is a tremendous addition to our coaching family and someone who will elevate our program into a national contender. Bill is one of the best coaches of any sport at any level and is highly regarded in collegiate lacrosse. He demands a lot of his student-athletes on the playing field, as well as in the classroom, and is the perfect coach to take our program to the next level."

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