Longtime Syracuse men’s lacrosse coach John Desko retiring

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse men’s lacrosse coach John Desko, who built a Hall of Fame career as both a player and coach, announced his retirement on Monday in the wake of a disappointing season.

“The last 46 years at Syracuse have been an incredible experience and I’m so grateful for my time here as a player, assistant and head coach,” Desko said in a statement, adding that he would elaborate on the decision in the near future.

Desko, 63, took over in 1999 and finishes with a record of 265-92. He has been with the program for all 11 of its NCAA championships, five as head coach, and was a two-time national coach of the year and Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year five times.

Desko arrived at Syracuse in 1975 and began his coaching career as an assistant to Roy Simmons Jr. immediately after his playing career. He spent 19 seasons as an assistant to Simmons and helped build the Orange into a perennial power before taking over. He was enshrined in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2020.

The decision to retire comes on the heels of a disappointing 7-6 season that began with the Orange ranked second nationally and ended with a lopsided loss to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The season included the suspension of star attackman Chase Scanlan after he was involved in what police described as a “domestic incident” involving a woman after a home loss to North Carolina in April. Desko said the suspension had been instituted for “violating team rules and expectations” and reinstated Scanlan a week after the suspension was announced.

But when Scanlan returned to practice, he worked out alone with a member of the coaching staff after the team’s five captains threatened to walk out and did not play again. The five captains also met with Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack, who cited federal privacy laws in declining to comment.

When asked on a Zoom call before the NCAA Tournament if he expected to coach the Orange next season, Desko said he had no plans not to return.

A successor has not been announced, but current Syracuse women’s lacrosse coach Gary Gait is expected to take over.

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