Larger Than Life Hall of Fame Coach Richie Moran Dies


Richie Moran at USA Lacrosse in 2016 dedication ceremony naming the gallery at the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in his honor.

Richie Moran, a Hall of Fame coach and a lifelong advocate for the sport, died on Sunday at the age of 85.

One of the most beloved figures in the sport’s history, Moran was a Long Island native who first gained notoriety as a standout midfielder for the powerhouse Sewanhaka High School teams. He went on to the University of Maryland, where he helped the Terps win the 1959 national championship.

Following graduation at Maryland, Moran served active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps before beginning his coaching career in 1961 at Manhasset High School. He combined for a 96-8 record at Manhasset and Elmont before becoming the head coach at Cornell University.

From 1969 through 1997, Moran compiled a 257-121 record in 29 seasons at Cornell, winning national championships in 1971, 1976 and 1977. His squads won 15 Ivy League championships, including 10 consecutive titles. From 1976-1978, Cornell set an NCAA record with 42 consecutive victories. And from 1973-1979, his squads won 39 consecutive Ivy League contests.

Also the head coach of the 1978 U.S. men’s team that won a silver medal at the world championship, Moran was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983. Today, the Hall of Fame gallery at USA Lacrosse headquarters in Sparks, Md., is named in his honor. 

“What a day and what a wonderful honor to have the [National] Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum Gallery named in my honor,” said Moran at the recognition ceremony in 2016. “For myself and my family, who stand with me today, I extend our deepest and most heartfelt gratitude. We remain ever grateful for this enduring tribute and we thank each and every one of you who helped to make this possible.”

That was one of seven Hall of Fame inductions for Moran, including induction into the inaugural class for the Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2016. A three-time Morris Touchstone Award winner as the Division I National Coach of the Year (1971, 1977, and 1987), Moran was named the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Man of the Year in 1975. In 2012, he received the “Spirit of Tewaaraton” award, which is presented to an individual involved in the sport of lacrosse, who nobly reflects the finest virtues exemplified in the game, and who, over the course of his life, has made a significant contribution to society and to the lives of others. He was chairman of the USILA North-South All-Star Game for more than a dozen years (1975-87).

For all of his accomplishments coaching and playing, Moran is perhaps best known for his advocacy growing the sport and his zest for life. A guest on the USA Lacrosse Magazine “Overtime with Paul Carcaterra” podcast last year, Moran also penned an autobiography, It’s Great to Be Here.

More recently, Christian Swezey authored We Showed Baltimore, chronicling Cornell’s reign of greatness in the 1970s during Moran’s tenure.

Moran held terms as president of the USLCA (1980-81) and the USILA (1989). He was the founder and later served as president of the Irish Lacrosse Foundation, coaching the team in the World Lacrosse championships to top 10 finishes in 2002 (seventh in Perth, Australia) and 2006 (ninth in London, Ontario).

His impact on the sport and the people involved in the sport will continue to be felt.

“For my nearly 25 years at USA Lacrosse I was witness to countless examples of his love for the sport...and more importantly, his love for the people involved in the game,” said Josh Christian, a major gifts officer at USA Lacrosse who led the development of the current Hall of Fame at USA Lacrosse that bears Moran’s name. “I cannot count the number of times that he answered my phone calls on the first ring and inquired about the wellbeing of my family and the USA Lacrosse staff before addressing the reason I called.  He would always send a handwritten thank you note to remind me how much he appreciated my friendship and to tell me that I was making a positive impact on the sport of lacrosse.  That’s incredible...and as I speak, I have his last note pinned to the wall in my office at USA Lacrosse headquarters...simply because it makes me smile and feel inspired every time I see it.”

“Coach Moran was a bigger than life personality that truly made the Cornell lacrosse family atmosphere that it is,” said Connor Buczek, current head coach at Cornell and a former Big Red player. “As young coaches, Jordan (Stevens) and I were fortunate to have him so close the program as both a mentor and friend.”

“He coached so many great players — Cornell under Richie Moran was a place you wanted to play,” said USA Lacrosse CEO Marc Riccio, who played high school lacrosse at Canadaigua Academy before playing collegiately at Hofstra. “I grew up admiring Coach Moran and the Big Red. He was a legend in Central New York, and his reach extended far beyond that region to make a national, and later, international impact on the sport.”

“Coach Moran wasn’t just a great coach, he was an incredible person,” said former Cornell great Rob Pannell, a two-time All-World attackman for the U.S. men’s team, on an Instagram tribute. “He always made whomever he was talking to feel special. He remembered everyone’s name, things that were going on in your life and always had a great story or joke to tell.”

Moran is survived by his wife Pat, as well as three children: Kevin, Jennifer and Kathy.

Information regarding services will be announced at a later date.

— Matt Hamilton contributed to this article.

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