Rick Sowell fired as Navy men’s lacrosse coach after eight seasons

Navy coach Rick Sowell looks on in the first quarter of a game against Princeton at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
Navy coach Rick Sowell looks on in the first quarter of a game against Princeton at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. (Paul W. Gillespie / Capital Gazette)

Navy men’s lacrosse coach Rick Sowell has been fired, the coach confirmed Thursday night.

Sowell said he met with athletic director Chet Gladchuk on Thursday afternoon and was informed that he had been relieved of his duties. He expressed shock at the news and cited his record of rebuilding the Midshipmen after replacing Richie Meade as the program’s eighth head coach on June 9, 2011.


He declined further comment.

In a message to the team’s supporters, Sowell wrote, “All, before the word hits the streets, I want you to hear it from me….I am no longer the head coach at Navy!! It’s a sad day for me, yes, it was a total surprise! For you returning players, please make the transition for the next coach easier then I had it. I’ll be rooting for you!! Coach Sowell.”

Gab Harchelroad had to wait until she was a senior to earn the starting job in goal for Navy women's lacrosse. Now Harchelroad and the rest of the seniors will try to help the Midshipmen capture their third straight Patriot League Tournament title.

In eight seasons at Navy, Sowell’s teams amassed a 54-56 record, shared three Patriot League regular-season championships between 2015 and 2018 and advanced to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals in 2016.

But this past spring, the Midshipmen went 6-7 overall and 4-4 in the conference. Despite upsetting then-No. 16 Boston University, 13-12, in the regular-season finale April 26, the team lost a tiebreaker with Bucknell and Holy Cross and was left out of the six-team Patriot League tournament.

Sowell, who had also coached at Dartmouth, St. John’s and Stony Brook, owns a career record of 140-137 over 20 years. When Navy earned a berth in the NCAA postseason in 2016, he joined Jack Emmer and Tony Seaman as the only coaches to guide three different Division I programs to the NCAA tournament.

After that season, Gladchuk confirmed to The Capital that he had added another four years to Sowell’s original contract, which had one season left. The deal was supposed to keep Sowell with the Midshipmen through 2021.

Baltimore Sun reporter Edward Lee contributed to this article.

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