An odd thing has happened in Easton, Pennsylvania: Lafayette College has removed two losing coaches this spring.
Coaches may soon be gathering by the water cooler with shocked faces: “What, they’re firing for losing now?”
First, Athletic Director Sherryta Freeman removed the volleyball coach. She should have just dropped the sport, a dud in the Northeast and nobody goes to matches anyway, but she did remove a losing coach, though volleyball ranks with fencing on the “who cares” spectrum.
Yesterday, a bigger name was terminated: women’s lacrosse coach Alison Fisher (see statement). In 11 seasons, Fisher was 63-125, and 21-61 in Patriot League games.
Such numbers aren’t unusual at Lafayette, which features what may be the worst Division 1 sports program in the country.
Freeman has announced a plan to build a championship culture. Perhaps now, after 15 months on the job, she’s starting to move beyond the slogans. Certainly getting new coaches is a step in the right direction, one that could have been taken earlier.
It will be interesting to see if she can move out certain longtime losers.
Baseball Coach Joe Kinney has more than 500 losses, but his team did make it into the league playoffs this year.
“The Big Kahuna” is men’s basketball Coach Fran O’Hanlon. In 24 years, O’Hanlon is 323-395 and the excuses are long gone. He hasn’t hit the double-figure mark in D1 wins for four straight years. He has some apologists left, but fewer after nearly a quarter-century of mediocre and bad performances. O’Hanlon has three league titles in 24 years and no post-season wins.
Freeman started slowly, but perhaps she’s starting to make big moves. Volleyball hardly matters, but women’s lacrosse could be an important sport, though attendance is meager.
Meanwhile, the so-called “rival,” Lehigh University, is beating Lafayette across the board.
Football and women’s basketball have coaches who deserve another year or two to show whether they can change the messes they stepped into, but men’s basketball, once the premier sport on College Hill, needs a change.
Can or will Freeman get a new men’s coach? That’s the test of her mandate and the college’s will.