Kerwick led Cornell to a 32-26 record over his four years as head coach.

Courtesy of Cornell Athletics

Kerwick led Cornell to a 32-26 record over his four years as head coach.

May 8, 2017

Kerwick Resigns as Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse; Milliman Named Interim

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Following the program’s worst consecutive seasons in 20 years, Cornell men’s lacrosse has announced head coach Matt Kerwick will not return for his fifth year at the helm.

Associate head coach Peter Milliman, who has been with the program for four years, will take over as interim head coach through the 2018 season. A nationwide search for a head coach will begin then for a “full-time replacement,” the team announced.

“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to step aside from my role as head coach of the men’s lacrosse team to focus on my family,” Kerwick said in a statement. “I would like to thank Cornell University for five great years. The people here have made it a truly special place to work. This decision has taken a great deal of thought because of the 47 young men in the locker room, and all of the former players that I have been so fortunate to build relationships with. With that said, my family and I are looking forward to moving on to a new chapter.”

“I respect and support Matt’s decision to focus on family first and very much appreciate the investment he made in the Cornell program. There is nothing more important than family, and all decisions must be made through that lens,” said Athletic Director Andy Noel in a statement. “Watching our young team play one of the most challenging schedules in the country, the development throughout the season was very apparent and portends great things in the future.”

Kerwick’s resignation was announced Monday, a little over a week after his team ended its 5-8 season with an upset win over then-No. 13 Princeton. The team started the year 0-5 — the worst start for Cornell since 1994.

Despite recent struggles, Kerwick opened his Cornell career with two straight co-Ivy regular season titles, as well as consecutive trips to the Ivy and NCAA tournaments. The Red showed promise of what’s to come this past season; the team’s young makeup had it positioned for success in the future, as highlighted in that final win over the Tigers.

Kerwick landed the No. 1 ranked prospect in the class of 2020, current freshman Jeff Teat, who broke the program’s freshman record for points in a single season with 72. He had 12 points in the win against Princeton.

Each of the past two Cornell squads have been over 60 percent underclassmen, and the top two scorers this year were freshmen — Teat and Connor Fletcher.

“I am proud of the growth we’ve seen over the last few seasons and I am confident that this young team is well positioned for a bright future,” Kerwick’s statement continued. “The Big Red family should be excited for all of the great things that lay ahead for our team.”

Kerwick joined the program as an assistant coach in 2013, then served as interim head coach in 2014 after the departure of Ben DeLuca. On June 11, 2014, he was officially named head coach.

Before Cornell, Kerwick worked as head coach at Randolph-Macon, Alfred, Jacksonville and Hobart — his alma mater — and was an associate head coach at Georgetown, after serving as an assistant at Penn. Including Cornell, he has led three different teams to the NCAA tournament, with Alfred and Hobart as the remaining two.

Milliman was the team’s associate head coach and led the offense, defense and recruiting. In March, he was named an assistant coach  of the 2019 U.S. men’s national indoor team. Prior to Cornell, he was head coach of Pfeiffer and served as assistant coach at RIT and Princeton.

  • emacallan

    What is the Athletic Dept. thinking ? The same mistake twice in a row. Start the search for a new lacrosse coach NOW ! When coach Deluca was fired
    (for reasons yet unexplained) and an interim coach(Kerwick) appointed valuable time and advantage was lost in recruiting. The lacrosse program
    never recovered. The effects are still being seen. Top talent is not attracted to a program in limbo. Success does not follow inconsistency. Poor
    leadership and lack of foresight has resulted in the once proud, once powerful Cornell lacrosse team to become a nonentity…an also ran.

    • Glenn M

      completely agree. What recruit is going to commit to a program not knowing who the coach is? You have a stud Freshman in Yates to use as a recruiting chip for both coaches and players alike. Commit to a national search now or commit to Miliman, who by the way is a great person.

  • D. Westoby

    Kerwick has been circling the drain for years. How he landed Teat is beyond me. No matter. Although if I’m Teat, and the other freshman, I’m already weighing my options of going to a real program (and, probably one that either has better weather for lacrosse, and or – ahem – a dome).

  • Nik Easterby

    “When coach Deluca was fired (for reasons yet unexplained) ” — really? He was fired because he lost control of team discipline, which not only resulted (ultimately) in his being fired, but the team was suspended from practice for a term (total wrist slap, owing to the pressures brought about by rich alumni who have an affection for lacrosse – maybe its that old ‘pre school lax bro’ thing). The team was determined to have violated any number of hazing policies, and were punished. Wasn’t a random sequence that saw ATO (where a lot of that cohort of ‘lax bros’ were pledged) to get tossed off campus.

    But, the other point is correct — its been downhill since they lost Tambroni to Penn State. The rise of non-traditional programs has been marked by teams poaching charismatic and popular coaches (Tamborni to Penn State, Bill Tierney to Denver, etc, etc), bringing them to schools where they can offer scholarships.

  • Jim Woodside, ’73

    Face it, Andy Noel is always “… a day late and a dollar short …” when it comes to doing something to save a team’s tradition. He flubbed with Kerwick’s appointment in the first place, didn’t get Donahue back when he left Boston College and now he’s torpedoing lacrosse again. He ought to get our knowledgeable lacrosse alumni to head the search committee immediately (because he’s obviously no judge of lacrosse coaches) so they can build on and develop the potential of this year’s team without loosing any of its foundation. If he doesn’t, he’s doing a tremendous disservice to the players and Cornell’s tradition of outstanding lacrosse… we can’t let him screw up again.

  • Pat

    We need to get Cornell Lax back on the right track by hiring a big splash name/alum that can turn this program back into a national title contender. Maryland coach John Tillman comes to mind (go figure?) as he is from Ithaca and is an alum. He’s an awesome coach, great guy and represents the class act this program is known for throughout the years. We need our mojo back. Kerwick wasn’t the right fit, neither was DeLuca. Why Cornell and stupid Ivy League does not allow athletic scholarships is another issue I completely disagree with, Cornell can still get back to its ways as a winning program. It’s time to recognize that and get a coach that can recruit, upgrade the program to a perennial national contender and hang more championship banners. I’m tired of us getting has-been associate coaches who have no affiliation with Cornell. Cornell has a winning men’s AND women’s hockey program practically every year, lacrosse should be the same way. Andy Noel needs to keep Big Red athletics at the top and stop taking a page out of mediocrity and hire some bloke that will keep this program spiraling toward Loserville. I’m fed up with the losing as an alum. LET’S GO RED