AD Craig Littlepage: Dom Starsia to return as lacrosse coach next season
UPDATED: 5:33 p.m.
Dom Starsia will return to coach the Virginia men’s lacrosse team next season, Athletic Director Craig Littlepage said in an e-mail. Earlier in the day, Starsia said he had no immediate plans to retire after his team completed a season that was overshadowed by the arrest of senior midfielder George Huguely in the killing of fellow U-Va. senior and women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.
"Coach Starsia has my support and he will be the the coach of the Virginia men's lacrosse team next season," Littlepage wrote.
In a phone interview earlier in the day, Starsia said, "I'd be the first to tell you I've been doing this a long time. I don't mean to be melodramatic, but I still love doing this. ... People have suggested I take a vacation, but for me a vacation would be to work only on groundballs or extra-man offense."
Starsia's plans were first reported on InsideLacrosse.com Friday morning. Starsia earns $111,700 per year on a contract that runs through 2012.
The Cavaliers wrapped up an emotional 16-2 season Saturday, losing to Duke, 14-13, in semifinal round of the NCAA tournament in Baltimore. After the game, Starsia, 58, whose father died of a long illness May 7, four days after Love’s death, appeared weary and said he was entering an uncertain off-season.
"I talked to the team in a way I wouldn't ordinarily do," Starsia said Friday. "On the practice field I found myself telling them, 'Fellas, I love this.' Our players played with passion and honor and courage. I would have preferred winning [the title], but I feel like I've gotten over the result of that game quicker than I've gotten over some other [losses].
"There was more going on than just lacrosse. It was the kids standing up for each other and helping each other."
Many U-Va. lacrosse alumni have rallied to support him in interviews over the past several weeks.
“I know who Dom is, and theres nothing in me that thinks that he isnt completely ripped apart by this,” Ray Kamrath, a captain on Starsia’s first U-Va, team in 1993, said last week. “This is tearing him up inside and out, because hes worked his whole career to build a legacy with players and the program. ... And its very troubling to guys who know him so well, who know how much he cares about the big picture. The big picture being yes its important to win, but its more important to create men. Responsible men. And thats what he wants.”
John Christmas, an All-American who played from 2002-’05, said last week of Starsia: “I would be dumbfounded and kind of [angry] if he wasn’t back and recruiting this summer."
Huguely, 22, was arrested and charged with killing Love, whose was found dead May 3 in her bedroom in Charlottesville. Huguely and Love had dated off-and-on for several years, according to friends, but their relationship had been punctuated by at least one other instance when Huguely turned violent with her.
Starsia has compiled a 316-113 record in 28 seasons as a head coach, including 10 at Brown University, his alma mater. He won three national titles at U-Va., in 1999, 2003 and 2006, the last coming with an undefeated 17-0 record.
But Virginia’s on-field success has been accompanied in recent years by a series of off-field incidents that include aggravated assualt, cocaine use, marijuana possession and drunk driving. Additionally, eight of the 41 players who began the season on this spring’s roster faced alcohol-related charges during their college careers at the school.
Among those with alcohol violations was Huguely, who in Nov. 2008 was Tasered and arrested after threatening a police officer. Huguely later claimed to have been so intoxicated that he failed to recall what he had done. U-Va. officials said in May that neither Starsia nor other school administrators knew about the arrest.
In Feb. 2009, Huguely attacked a sleeping teammate over accusations that the player had kissed Love, whom Huguely had been dating. Though both players informed Starsia of the altercation, he did not mete out discipline; school officials have said he did not know the severity or circumstances that precipiated the attack. This February, Huguely attacked Love at a campus party, choking her until players from the University of North Carolina pulled him off of her. U-Va. officials said Starsia did not know about that incident, either.
Christian Swezey and David Nakamura
June 4, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
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