Instant Juice: Gary Gait to succeed John Desko as Syracuse men’s lacrosse coach

John Desko
Syracuse lacrosse head coach John Desko speaks during a press conference. MANDATORY PHOTO CREDIT: Initra Marilyn, The Juice Online.

A quick take on a report on Sunday that stated Gary Gait would succeed John Desko as the Syracuse men’s lacrosse coach:

WHAT HAPPENED: An Inside Lacrosse report on Sunday said that Gary Gait, widely regarded as one of the best lacrosse players in the history of the game, will become Syracuse men’s lacrosse’s next head coach. He will succeed John Desko, a five-time NCAA champion and Hall of Fame, who has been head coach since 1999. Gait has been the head coach of the women’s lacrosse team since 2007 and has led them to the NCAA finals, as recently as this season, but never won a national championship. He will now have that opportunity with the men’s team, which has won 15 national championships, but none since 2009. He will become just the fifth men’s head coach in school history.

ANALYSIS: Desko will certainly go down in the record books as one of lacrosse’s greatest coaches with 265 wins, but there’s no denying that the Orange’s dominance of college lacrosse has waned over the past decade. Since winning the title in 2009, Syracuse has not been to championship weekend since 2013, and has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2017. While SU came into this season with plenty of promise, having gone 5-0 and been the top ranked team in the country prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, the Orange fell well short of expectations, finishing the regular season 7-5 and getting blasted by the Hoyas in the NCAA Tournament, 18-8. And that was on top of the off-the-field distractions.

HERO: Gait dominated college lacrosse when he was at Syracuse, finishing as a four-time All-American, three-time NCAA Champion, and a two-time Lt. Raymond Enners Award winner. He still holds the Syracuse career goals record at 192 and the single-season goals record at 70. He played in the NLL for 17 years, and at one point was named MVP for five straight seasons. Gait has also had an outstanding coaching career, becoming the first rookie head coach in the NLL to win a championship. Syracuse women’s lacrosse had won just one NCAA Tournament game prior to Gait arriving, but since then has become a fixture in championship weekend.

» Related: Despite recent dip, Syracuse lacrosse still a marquee program

ZERO: The report says that Desko will be “retiring,” but that is opposite of Desko’s sentiments following Syracuse’s loss to Georgetown in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. “As far as I’m concerned that decision’s already been made and that’s what I want to do,” he said. “If it’s up to me, I’m coming back.” The retirement coming on the heels of this statement certainly suggest that Desko’s decision was not one of his own.

WHAT’S NEXT: The search for the next women’s lacrosse head coach is underway. Early reports were that Kayla Treanor, a four-time first-time All-American at Syracuse, was being considered for the job, but a report from’s Brent Axe said she turned the position down. Other candidates being floated are Stony Brook head coach Joe Spallina, longtime Gait assistant and former Orangemen All-American Regy Thorpe, and Katie Rowan, currently the head coach of Albany who was named to the All-Big East First Team four times during her Syracuse playing career.

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About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for covering the New York Knicks, as well as for covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]