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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 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.

By Christian Swezey and David Nakamura  |  June 4, 2010; 11:41 AM ET
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I hope UVA keeps Starsia! No; he didn't kill anyone; he just looked the other way when he knew Hugely had issues with rage!

Instead of enforcing discipline or being a mentor he slapped Hugley on the wrist after assaulting a sleeping teamate? AND; I am sure he had no idea of Hugely's arrest for assaulting a woman police officer?

By all means; give him a new contract!

Posted by: sbf845 | June 4, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

It's time for all involved in student athletics to be positive leaders and role models. Student athletes should be good students and good citizens first. If they have violated the law, they should not be allowed to play ,practice or hand out towels or even sweep the floor of the locker room. Coaches trainers and athletic staff need to be citizens and members of their community. They need to set limits with players and staff who are not behaving in an appropriate manner and who violate the law.Students athletes,coaches and athletic staff represent their schools to the community at large and ,like it or not, are looked upon by some as role models. Assualting a police officer,repeated incidents of drunk and disorderly conduct, assualting a fellow student athlelte while they are asleep cannot be ignored, or brushed off by a 'boys-will-be boys' attitude towards misconduct. The culture of entitlement for athletes has to stop. I'm sure the coach will miss his sis figure job- too bad he missed his chance to set limits on his frat boy party jocks before one of them murdered someone.

Posted by: lsf07 | June 4, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Why is this even being discussed? There is NO WAY that UVA is going to fire Dom Starsia. He's the most accomplished coach in the entire Athletic Department.

To even think otherwise is crazy.

Dom's going NO WHERE.

Posted by: TheSuperhoo | June 4, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

The WaPo needs to stop STIRRING THE DAMN POT on this crap. Stop trying to make more news where there's none to be had.

I notice it's not the usual CavsJournal writer who wrote this piece of crap.

If I were him I'd be careful who is allowed to post on his blog. Looks poorly on him as not everyone is going to bother to check the byline.

Posted by: TheSuperhoo | June 4, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

UVA needs to do the right thing and fire Starsia. If he knew about any of the documented indescretions of his players (and you know he did) and didn't follow UVA policy, he should be let go. UVA and its "better than thou" attitude needs to stop the hypocracy and do what's right. If only to honor the legacy of poor Yeardly Love.

Posted by: nrabill | June 4, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

It was his job to know what was going on. Ignorance isn't an excuse when you break the law, and it isn't an excuse when you fail your students. He and the University only care about winning games. That much is clear. Sadly, it speaks to a wider systemic problem in our society.

Posted by: jrinal | June 4, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Len Bias didn't hurt anyone except himself, and Lefty Dreisell got booted out of Maryland pretty quick. Call me crazy, but murdering your girlfriend would seem to be a more serious offense? The coach is responsible for the players, good or bad. He obviously wasn't overly concerned with discipline or rules and looked the other way at multiple warning signs. He needs to go.

Posted by: Gnillew9 | June 4, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

PLease, give me a break!! This article talks about alcohol and drug issues. Can anyone tell me about ANY college in the country that doesn't have an issue with drugs and alcohol? That is what young adults do when they are sent off to a place on their own for the first time in their life.
When Dom does something truly trouble making let me know.

Posted by: seattlefreak8 | June 4, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Seems there are some people who are doing a lot of "assuming" in these comments. People who apparently are "insiders" to the program. Perhaps they should go to the UVa administration and enlighten Craig Littlepage considering they have more insider knowlege than he does. After all, didn't Craig do all he could to cover up the Peter Lalich incident? And when Sylven Landesberg wasn't going to class, wasn't it UVa that said, "wait, he's a star, let him play." Or am I thinking of how other local universities treat their star athletes? Because if there was a player UVa DEFINITELY wanted to protect, it's a borderline 2nd/3rd team midfielder averaging under 3 goals per year for his career. That's definitely a guy you do everything in your power to keep on the field.

It's over people. Let it go.

Posted by: JoeMller | June 5, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

"There was more going on than just lacrosse. It was the kids standing up for each other and helping each other."

Standing up for each other?! Let's look at how that was done. They protected their winning season and standing in the playoffs. How did the men's lacrosse team stand up for the well-being of Love or Huguely? How did they or their coach stand up for genuine self-discipline?

Winning at all costs, that's what UVA stands for. None of those in the UVA administration "get it." Entitlement and big $$$- it's where it's at.

Posted by: PatC1 | June 8, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

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