Bill Tierney, who came to
Central Jersey more than two decades ago and built a forgotten program into a
six-time NCAA champion and 14-time Ivy League champion, is leaving PrincetonUniversity
to become the head men’s lacrosse coach at the University of Denver.
“I don’t leave Princeton unfulfilled, unhappy, or disappointed in any
way,” Tierney says. “I leave Princeton
for an opportunity that I never thought would come my way. I give my
deepest thanks to Princeton, to [University
President] Shirley Tilghman and to [Director of Athletics] Gary Walters. I
thank all of the wonderful players I’ve had here. I thank all of the great men
who’ve coached with me, especially David Metzbower and Bryce Chase. I have all
the confidence in the world that Princeton
will choose the right leadership to follow in my path.”
Tierney went 238-86 as Tiger head coach, including 13-3 in
2009, the last of his 22 seasons at Princeton.
Including his three seasons as RIT, Tierney is 272-93 as a college head coach.
His resume also includes leading the United States
team to the 1998 World Championship. He is a member of the U.S. Lacrosse Hall
In addition to six NCAA championships, Tierney took Princeton to eight NCAA finals, 10 NCAA Final Fours and
16 quarterfinal appearances, including one in 2009. Princeton
had never reached the NCAA tournament prior to his arrival.
While at Denver, Tierney will
coach with his son Trevor, an All-America goalie at Princeton
who played on the 1998 and 2001 NCAA championships teams, who will be an
assistant coach with the Pioneers. Tierney and his wife Helen will also be
closer to his youngest daughter Brianne, who is an assistant coach under former
Princeton great Theresa Sherry with California’s
women’s lacrosse program, and youngest son Brendan, who lives and works in Seattle. His other daughter Courtney will continue to coach at the Pennington School near Princeton.
“The University and the
athletic department obviously have bittersweet feelings about Bill's decision
to take the head coaching position at Denver,”
Walters says. “We understand his interest in being closer to members of his
family and working with his son Trevor, while simultaneously taking on the
challenge of spreading the lacrosse Gospel to the Western states. We also
recognize the extraordinary contributions he has made to PrincetonUniversity
and the education of our student-athletes for 22 years.”
Tierney inherited a team that won five Ivy League games in
the four years prior to his arrival combined. Princeton
had not won an Ivy League championship in the 20 years prior to his arrival, in
the summer of 1987.
He told his first class of Princeton recruits that they
would win a national championship together and then went out and made that
happen with a 10-9 double overtime win over Syracuse on Memorial Day 1992.
Princeton followed with
NCAA titles in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2001. In all, Tierney went 30-12 in
NCAA tournament games, making him and Roy Simmons Jr. of Syracuse (with 34) the only coaches with at
least 30 Division I NCAA tournament wins. Of Tierney’s six NCAA championships,
four were won in overtime.
“Bill has been a great leader
of the Princeton lacrosse program anda great ambassador for the athletic
department and the game of lacrosse itself,” Walters says. “At the same time, Princeton remains committed to the high quality of its men's
lacrosse program, and as such we will now conduct a national search in as
timely a manner as possible.”
Tierney inherits a Denver team one year
removed from the NCAA tournament. The Pioneers went 7-8 in 2009, their final in
the Great Western Lacrosse League as they move to, ironically, the ECAC for
“The expansion of the game to
the West is exciting,” Tierney says. “If we are truly going to make
lacrosse a nationwide sport, we need for some programs out there to become
great. I think I can help Colorado
lacrosse become the launching pad for that movement. DenverUniversity
has had a short, ten-year Division I existence.
“I am proud of what we were able to do together at Princeton. This has not been an easy decision for me. I
am confident that Princeton lacrosse is in a
great position moving forward, and that is extremely important to me.”