Bill Tierney Announces He Will Retire After 2023 Season


Legendary college lacrosse coach Bill Tierney announced Thursday that he will retire after the upcoming season.

“They say, ‘When you know, you know,’ and as my career draws to a close, I'm at peace with this decision,” Tierney, 70, said in a press release issue by the University of Denver.

Tierney enters his final season with a 429-147 (.745) career record and an NCAA Division I-record seven national championships, most recently leading the Pioneers to a title in 2015. He was already the most decorated coach in college lacrosse history when he came to Denver in 2009, having led Princeton to six NCAA championships from 1992-2001.

Tierney left Princeton for Denver with a twofold purpose: to turn the Pioneers into a perennial final four-caliber program and to help grow the sport in the West. Denver is the only non-East Coast school ever to claim an NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse title.

Notably, the press release made no mention of conducting a search for Tierney’s successor. Associate head coach Matt Brown, long considered one of the sport’s brightest offensive minds and the head coach in waiting, graduated from Denver in 2005 and has been a member of the staff since 2007.

“While I know a lot of the focus will be on this being my last season, I'm really excited to get the whistle back around my neck next week and start the preseason with this great group of student-athletes,” Tierney said.

A 2002 National Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee and the 2009 USA Lacrosse Magazine Person of the Year, Tierney became the fastest coach in NCAA Division I history to achieve 400 wins, reaching the milestone in just 532 games, 62 games faster than his long-time friend and competitor John Danowski.

He started his college coaching career as an assistant at Johns Hopkins, helping to lead the Blue Jays to NCAA championships in 1985 and 1987. When he arrived at Princeton in 1988, the Tigers had not won a league championship, made an NCAA tournament appearance or produced a first-team All-American in 20 years.

“To me, he is without question the greatest lacrosse coach of all time and one of the greatest coaches any sport has ever seen,” said Jerry Price, Princeton’s senior communications advisor and historian. “To take one program that had never won an NCAA tournament game and lead it to the national title (and then five more after it) is an astonishing accomplishment. To do so with a second program is extraordinary.”

The son of a beverage truck driver and a nurse, Tierney grew up in Levittown, N.Y., and latched onto lacrosse as a student-athlete at Cortland State. He returned to Long Island to coach high school lacrosse at Great Neck South and Levittown Memorial, then spent three seasons as the head coach at RIT before joining the staff at Hopkins — jumpstarting one of the most memorable coaching journeys the sport has ever seen.

“When I go to my grave, I don't want them putting on my headstone how many national championships I had,” Tierney said. “I want them to put on my headstone that I loved my players.”

Coming off a 9-6 season in which it missed the NCAA tournament for just the second time in 13 years under Tierney, Denver opens the 2023 campaign Feb. 4 against Utah.

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