June 15, 2010

Update: Maryland Signs Tillman to Seven-Year Deal

by Gary Lambrecht | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

John Tillman, after three years at Harvard, will be the next head coach at Maryland.

© Kevin P. Tucker

John Tillman, who established himself as a successful assistant at Navy before taking his first head coaching job at Harvard three years ago, is the new men's lacrosse coach at the University of Maryland

Sources confirmed Tuesday night that Tillman signed a seven-year contract, making him the ninth head coach in the 87-year history of Maryland lacrosse.

Tillman replaces Dave Cottle, who was forced to step down on May 23, the day after the third-seeded Terrapins dropped a 7-5 decision to unseeded -- and eventual tournament runner-up -- Notre Dame in the NCAA tournament quarterfinals

Cottle, who won 280 games in 28 seasons combined at Loyola and Maryland, coached the Terps for nine seasons that included 99 wins, eight NCAA tournament appearances and three trips to the tournament semifinals.

Tillman emerged as Maryland's leading candidate after Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni, Bryant University and former Duke coach Mike Pressler and Syracuse women's lacrosse coach Gary Gait removed themselves from consideration during Maryland's three-week search. Maryland also interviewed longtime Virginia assistant Mark Van Arsdale.

Following a fine run as a head assistant, recruiting and scouting coordinator and offensive coordinator at Navy, which reached the NCAA title game and fielded the third-ranked scoring unit in Division I with his help in 2004, Tillman took over a struggling Harvard program in 2007.

Under Tillman, who did not return phone calls on Tuesday, the Crimson went 20-19 in three seasons, but failed to make the NCAA tournament. Harvard's best year under Tillman was 2009, when the Crimson went 8-5 and recorded a rare top five victory by beating Duke. Harvard finished 6-6 in 2010.

A 1991 graduate of Cornell, Tillman spent four years as an assistant at Ithaca College, before joining the staff of Richie Meade at Navy in 1996. In 2002, he was named head assistant at Navy. Starting in 2004 with their run to the national championship game, the Mids made the postseason during each of Tillman's last four seasons in Annapolis. Navy's string of six consecutive tournament appearances was snapped last month.

Sources: Maryland Offers Tillman Seven-Year Deal (posted 6/15/10 at 4:55 p.m.)

The University of Maryland has offered Harvard coach John Tillman a seven-year contract to replace Dave Cottle as the Terrapins' head men's lacrosse coach, according to sources familiar with the Maryland search.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Maryland was hoping to sign Tillman, the former top assistant at Navy who interviewed for the job last week and emerged as the leading candidate in College Park. Sources said longtime Virginia assistant Mark Van Arsdale would be Maryland's next choice, should Tillman decide to remain at Harvard.

Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni, Syracuse women's lacrosse coach Gary Gait and Bryant coach Mike Pressler, who was forced to resign at Duke in 2006 after three players were falsely charged with rape, have removed themselves from consideration for the Maryland job.

Tillman has posted a 20-19 record in three seasons at Harvard, which finished 6-6 last season. In 2009, the Crimson went 8-5 -- including a notable top 5 victory over Duke -- marking its first finish above .500 since 2004 and the most wins by Harvard since 2002.

Tillman, a 1991 graduate of Cornell, is well-known for his contributions at Navy, where he spent 12 years as an assistant under head coach Richie Meade, including his last six as the top assistant and offensive coordinator. With Tillman in that role, the Midshipmen scored a school-record 221 goals in 2004, when Navy ranked third in Division I in scoring and lost to Syracuse in the NCAA championship game.

Cottle was fired after nine seasons on May 23, the day after the third-seeded Terps lost to unseeded and eventual tournament finalist Notre Dame in the NCAA quarterfinals and finished with a 12-4 record. Cottle won 99 games at Maryland and guided the Terps to eight straight NCAA tournaments and three appearances in the tournament semifinals, but failed to get the Terps to the final four after 2006.

Harvard has not been to the NCAA tournament since 2006.

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