Virginia vacancy could draw star-studded cast of applicants

The most interesting weekend of the lacrosse season is coming up and this year the Memorial Day scene is doubly compelling.

There's the obvious question going into an NCAA Final Four weekend: Which team, on Memorial Day at Penn's Franklin Field in Philadelphia, is going to be crowned Division I champion?


In Saturday's semifinals, No. 1 seed Syracuse will play No. 5 Johns Hopkins, and No. 2 North Carolina goes against No. 3 Princeton. The winners will meet Monday for the title.

The other thing that has generated unusual interest is: Who will succeed just retired Jim Adams as coach at Virginia?


Within the lacrosse fraternity, the Virginia situation is creating more speculation than the championships (including the NCAA Division III title, for which Roanoke and Nazareth will meet Sunday at Franklin Field).

The Virginia job is considered such a plum that many of the top coaches in the country are interested.

Among those who will at least be interviewed if Virginia calls are Princeton's Bill Tierney, Loyola's Dave Cottle, Yale's Mike Waldvogel, Brown's Dom Starsia, ex-Hopkins coach Don Zimmerman, ex-Jim Adams Virginia assistants Jeff Long (now at Ithaca College) and Mike Caravana (at Dennison), and Washington & Lee's Jimmy Stagnita.

The list could include two local high school coaching stars -- St. Paul's Mitch Whiteley, whose Kelly Award-winning son, Tim, will enter Virginia in the fall, and Boys' Latin's Bob Shriver.

My understanding is that it's Tierney's job to turn down. Tierney was Hopkins' first pick two years ago but declined and stayed at Princeton. You have to think Hopkins knows something about lacrosse coaches.

"No one has asked," Tierney said yesterday when questioned about Virginia. "The timing is bad. Here we are in the Final Four and people want to know about Virginia. That's a prestigious job, but all I can think of is getting our team ready to play Carolina. I don't want to talk about anything else."

Another coach with some credentials who might appeal to Virginia is Kevin Corrigan, who this year took Notre Dame to the NCAA tourney. Corrigan, 33, is a Virginia alumnus. He's been successful in his four years at South Bend despite the school's high academic standards and despite having no scholarships.

It's believed Virginia's athletic director, Jim Copeland, who played football at Virginia and with the Cleveland Browns, will rely on ACC commissioner Gene Corrigan for advice in choosing a lacrosse coach. Gene Corrigan is Kevin's father. It was Gene who hired Kevin at Notre Dame.


"I'm kind of holding off on Virginia," Kevin Corrigan said yesterday. "I think Virginia is going to say, 'We want to hire the best coach in the country because we have the best job.' If they're interested in me, they'll call. Anyway, we're just getting started here at Notre Dame."

As for the games, anything can happen. I'm picking Hopkins over Syracuse. The Blue Jays dealt the Orange their only loss of the season, 15-14, in their season opener, and Tony Seaman seems to have Syracuse's number. I think deep, talented, defending champion North Carolina will go all the way.

"North Carolina is capable," says Princeton's Tierney. "In a three-day tournament, Carolina's depth will mean a lot, as it did last year when they beat Towson State for the title.

"It's real possible that Hopkins will beat Syracuse. Our Princeton team has won eight straight since losing at Carolina [9-8] in March. Our goalie, Scott Bacigalupo [from St. Paul's], made some big-time saves in our [11-10] win over Maryland last week.

"Hey, we're the underdogs. Nobody expects us to win. I like being in that position."

* Postseason awards: I've never known two more impressive college seniors than the pair that won Loyola College's top student-athlete honors this year. Sean Quinn (lacrosse), from the Syracuse suburbs, won the coveted Mohler Award. Kelly McGuigan, field hockey/lacrosse player from Springfield, Pa., won the Lagna Award. I'd bet the rent money these two will go far in life.