LAURINBURG — St. Andrews University has quietly suspended the men’s lacrosse program for the 2017-18 school year.
School officials were initially hesitant to release information on the decision following negatives comments to a brief post on St. Andrews Knights Athletics’ Facebook page last month.
The suspension will affect five student-athletes that are currently receiving lacrosse scholarships from St. Andrews. School officials said all of the scholarships will be honored and players will be released if they choose to transfer to another school, but had no information on how many players have elected to transfer.
Karrie Woodward Treas, the mother of Cha’Sed Miller — a former St. Andrews lacrosse player, was one of those expressing dissatisfaction with the suspension.
“The problem now is not only finding a good coach but a new athletic administration,” Treas said on Facebook. “What you are doing to this program and the players that have committed to play for your school based on the work of previous players is ridiculous and sad.”
The university’s Facebook post says despite St. Andrews having fielded successful men’s lacrosse teams in the past, the program is being suspended to “analyze the recruiting strategy, identify a new head coach and rebuild the roster with student-athletes who can successfully return the program to the field.”
The post goes on to say that in order for St. Andrews to reinstate the men’s lacrosse program it needs to “identify a head coach who understands the mission of athletics at St. Andrews and reflects the Champions of Character initiative of the NAIA.”
Graduate assistant soccer coach Conor Moloney was named head coach mid-way through the 2016-17 season after interim head coach Tommy Brooks was relieved of his position, with no explanation from school officials.
The university will begin the search for a new head coach in August.
There is no mention of the program’s suspension anywhere on the university’s website and the school has not issued a press release to the public on the matter.
When The Laurinburg Exchange reached out via email, St. Andrews Athletic Director Glenn Batten said the plan is for the men’s lacrosse team to begin competition in the 2019 season.
Batten said two seasons ago the lacrosse team went to the NAIA National Championship — which he cited as one of the reasons why the school choose to suspend the program. The Knights finished the 2016-17 season with a 2-7 overall record and 1-5 in conference play.
The 2016 Appalachian Athletic Conference champions, the St. Andrews team did not qualify for the AAC tournament this year.
“Using next season to recruit and rebuild the squad to 35 players will return the team to a higher level of competition,” Batten said in an e-mail. “St. Andrews fielded some very strong teams in the past; however, recruiting has lagged during the last couple of cycles and last year’s team had a large number of walk-on players.”
The lacrosse team only fielded 16 players for the 2016-17 season, four of which were walk-on players.
Batten said it is untrue that St. Andrews has promoted under qualified assistant coaches to the head coaching position after former head coach Christopher Sherman resigned in 2013.
“All of our coaches are well qualified in their respective sport. Coaching at the collegiate level requires skills at teaching the sport, managing budgets, and recruiting,” said Batten. “The interim men’s lax coach (Brooks) did struggle with the recruiting aspect of the job.”
Following Sherman’s departure in 2013, St. Andrews promoted assistant head coach Joe Wilson to interim head coach for the 2013-14 season later naming him as Sherman’s successor as head coach.
Wilson served as the Knights head coach for three seasons before leaving and assistant coach Tommy Brooks was named interim head coach for the 2016-17 season. Brooks was head coach for half of last season before being relieved of his position.
Moloney was named interim head coach in March 2017 so the Knights could finish out the season.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.