Gary Gait Named 5th Head Coach in Syracuse Men's History


Perhaps the biggest bit of offseason news on the men’s side is now official — Gary Gait is taking over Syracuse’s men’s lacrosse program.

Gait, the women’s coach at Syracuse since 2007, took the Orange to eight final fours and the NCAA championship game this season. After John Desko announced his retirement earlier today, it was expected Gait would be named the head coach after Inside Lacrosse’s sources said just that on Sunday evening.

It remains to be seen who will take over the women’s program.

Press Release

Widely considered to be the greatest player in lacrosse history, Gary Gait has been hired as the Roy D. Simmons Jr. Head Men's Lacrosse Coach at Syracuse.

Gait becomes the fifth head coach for the 107th year of Syracuse men's lacrosse, replacing Hall of Fame head coach John Desko, who announced his retirement on Monday. He takes the job after a 14-year stint as the head coach of the Orange's women's lacrosse program. Caitlin Defliese, an assistant coach for the last five seasons, has been named as the women's program's interim head coach. A national search is underway to find Gait's replacement.

"It is an honor to be named the fifth head coach of this program, and I thank John Wildhack for giving me the opportunity," Gait said. "I also want to thank John Desko for everything he means to Syracuse lacrosse and appreciate his help and support since I arrived at Syracuse.

"Coaching and developing the Syracuse women's lacrosse program was phenomenal and I thank the coaching staff and players of that program, as well as the entire Athletics Department, for all their dedication and continued support.

"This is an exciting opportunity to be able to coach the team I made so many memories playing for, and my family and I are excited for this transition. The goal of every team I've ever coached was to win a championship and that goal will continue as the head coach of the Syracuse men's lacrosse team."

Gait's remarkable playing career features a winning theme at every level. A three-time NCAA Champion, Gait led Syracuse's most dominant stretch in program history, losing just one game in three seasons from 1988-90. He is a two-time recipient of the Lt. Raymond J. Enners Award, presented annually to the nation's most outstanding player, and was the NCAA Championship Most Outstanding Player on a team considered to be the greatest ever assembled in college lacrosse.

At the professional level as a player, Gait has won three NLL titles (1991, 1994, 1995), three MLL titles, (2001, 2002, 2005), three Mann Cups (1991, 1997, 1999), the Heritage Cup (2004) and the ILF World Championship (2006).

In his career, Gait is a 10-time NCAA Champion, including seven titles as an assistant coach with the Maryland women's lacrosse program (1995-01) and his three championships as a player. Gait took over as Syracuse's head women's lacrosse coach in 2007 and has turned the team into a national powerhouse, reaching three national title games, including in the 2021 season.

"Gary is as knowledgeable about the game of lacrosse as any person in the sport. He is the greatest player of the modern era," said Director of Athletics John Wildhack. "As a coach he has excelled, leading our women's lacrosse program to three National Championship game appearances. Gary has coached men's lacrosse at the professional and international levels. He is the right person to follow in the legacy of Coach Desko, Coach Simmons Jr., Coach Simmons Sr. and Laurie Cox."

As a collegiate coach, Gait helped elevate programs to new heights. After a dominant run with the Maryland women's lacrosse team as an assistant, Gait turned the Orange women into an immediate powerhouse, reaching the program's first Championship Weekend in his inaugural season with the team (2008).

Under Gait, every class has reached at least one final four in their time on campus, including national championship game appearances in 2012, 2014 and 2021. He has also mentored some of the game's greatest players, including four Tewaaraton Award finalists Katie Rowan, Michelle Tumolo, Alyssa Murray and Kayla Treanor.

Prior to taking over the Orange women's program, he spent two seasons as the head coach of the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League. In that tenure, he led the Mammoth to a pair of playoff appearances and a 2006 league championship.

He also coached four seasons in Major League Lacrosse with the Baltimore Bayhawks and won a pair of titles in 2002 and 2005.

Gait and his wife Nicole have two children who also played college lacrosse. Their son, Braedon, played at Princeton, while their daughter, Taylor, played at Syracuse from 2013-19.

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