LETTER: An open letter about Coach DeLuca ’98

November 20, 2013 1:02 am4 comments

To the Editor:

While many of us have expressed our frustration and disappointment at the news that Ben DeLuca will no longer be the Head Coach of Cornell Men’s Lacrosse, the purpose of this letter is to thank Ben for his leadership and commitment to Cornell University over the last 17 years. We have witnessed firsthand Ben’s dedication to the school and the program he loved. For decades, the Men’s Lacrosse program has been a gold standard in the Cornell athletic department and Ben has been an integral part of that as a player, an assistant coach and head coach.

We have been DeLuca’s classmates and teammates. We have been his co-captains, his alumni supporters and boosters. We have watched him coach our own children. We played for him as our assistant coach, and eventually, as our coach. Undoubtedly, the goal of a collegiate head coach is two-fold: One, to prepare your players for success on the field, and two, to prepare them for professional and personal success as responsible men maximizing their individual potential, while serving as positive ambassadors for a university athletic program. Surely on both counts, as former player Rob Pannell ’13 said last week, there could have been no better man for the job.

Athletically, the results under DeLuca’s stewardship have been undeniable. In his three years as head coach, the Big Red has won two Ivy League titles and his teams have twice advanced to the NCAA tournament with one appearance at the Final Four. DeLuca currently has the highest active winning percentage in all Division I. DeLuca has coached 12 All-Americans, five of whom were First Team All-Americans, 19 All-Ivy selections, five Academic All-Americans, five Academic All- Ivy, 10 All-Ivy Tournament selections, one Ivy League Rookie of the Year, two Ivy League Players of the Year and one Tewaaraton Award recipient.

As a mentor of young men, DeLuca’s accomplishments are even more impressive, albeit on a more private scale.  You cannot see young men maturing in highlights on ESPN, and you do not read about it in the newspaper. But a coach’s role as a mentor is every bit as important.  Under Coach DeLuca’s leadership, the lacrosse team has been a fixture in the community. The team’s commitment to giving back in terms of time and fundraising is unparalleled by any team at Cornell. For years now, the Cornell Lacrosse team has set an example on campus that other teams strived to emulate, in the classroom, on the field and in the community. DeLuca stressed the importance of giving back to those who come out and support the team on game day. Through various endeavors such as Big Red Readers, the 21 Run, Dream Factory of Central New York Lacrosse Clinic, and cleaning Schoellkopf after Homecoming, among other things, the Cornell Lacrosse team has made its presence felt in the Cornell and Ithaca communities under DeLuca. And as with everything he did, Coach DeLuca always led by example, his tireless efforts as a member of the Executive Committee for the Mario St. George Boiardi Foundation since its inception providing just one example among many.

DeLuca has also applied his inexhaustible focus and energy toward the post-collegiate success of his many players, a role he excelled at as much as his more public on-field accomplishments. For the impact he has had on our children and friends, we owe him our greatest debt.  From when DeLuca started at Cornell to now, Cornell has become a winner again. This makes all of our lives better and more fun each spring. We see each other more, personal and professional relationships flourish, and our pride in Cornell and our lacrosse program has been at an all-time high.

As Cornellians, it is hard not to focus on the unfortunate loss that this decision brings for the program we love, and the University we all remember so fondly. But as alumni who have felt DeLuca’s impact on ourselves and seen it on those behind us, we can only say that some lucky program is about to be changed in an infinitely positive manner. We have no doubt that DeLuca will win a national championship. It is just too bad that it will not be for the Big Red.

Adam Shaivitz ’98
AJ Fiore ’13
Alan ’81 & Candace Collmer ’82  (parents of Alex Collmer ’97)
Alex Collmer ’97
Allison Angelilli ’00
Allison Riley Holmes ’98
Alyson A. Levine ’95
Andrew MacDonald ’10
Anthony G Pavone ’95
Austin Boykin ’10
Ben Hutchen ’95
Billy Fort ’02
Bob and Susan Pannell (Parents of Rob Pannell ’13)
Bob Budington ’92
Bobby Werhane ’01
Brandon A.S. Ross ’04
Brandon Hall ’02
Brett Wilderman ’99
Brian & Sue Keller (Parents of Brian Keller ’98)
Brian Clayton ’07
Brian Goldberg ’99
Brian Keller ’98
Buck Holmes ’97
Cameron Marchant ’06
Carl & Monnie Viola (Parents of Chris Viola ’03 & Margaux Viola ’07)
Casey Stevenson ’05
CC Hafner
Charlie and Kathie
Werhane (parents of Bobby Werhane)
Chris Braceland ’97
Chris Danler ’95
Chris H. Packard ’00
Chris Langton ’12
Chris Morea ’03
Chris Viola ’03
Clayton Weber ’96
Connor English ’13
Courtney Baker ’10
Cristina Niccolini ’94
Dan Gellert ’00
Dan Leary ’05
Dan McNamara ’98
Dan Wolff ’96
Danny Nathan ’08
Dave Bush ’06
David Baiada ’99
David Carlos ’99
David Casillo ’97
David Krauter ’96
David Lau ’11
David Mitchell ’07
David Nachman ’00
David Pietramala (Head
Coach 1998-2000)
David Pittard ’04
Doug Needham ’04
Doug Thornell ’99
Dr. Vanessa Redd ’05
Edward & Judy Clayton (Parents of Brian & Andrew ’07) 
Edward ’68 and Catherine Marchant (Parents of ’98 and ’06) 
Eliot Marchant ’98
Eric C. Pittard ’07
Ethan Vedder ’07
Evan P. Boulukos ’00
Fred Peightal ’98
Geoffrey Gross ’95
George and Dorothy Voris (Parents Michael Voris ’99)
George Calvert ’09
Henry Bartlett ’07
Hunter Ross ’94
Ian Hafner ’98
Jack and Stephanie Seibald (Parents of Amanda ’08 and Max ’09)
Jake Myers ’09
Jason Noble ’13
Jason Underwood ’94
JD Nelson ’05
Jeff Tambroni (Head Coach 2001-2010)
Jennifer Talley
Gonnella ’94
Jesse Cole ’94
Joe Lando ’92
Joe Rossettie ’98
John Bucci ’95
John Glynn ’09
Johnny Heil ’90
Jon Ciaio ’99
Jon Luoto ’09
Jonathan Cheng ’98
Joseph Boulukos ’06
Josh Gellert ’95
Josh Gonnella ’94
Josh Heller ’02
Joshua Morgan ’99
Jud Howson ’95
Justin Redd ’05
Keith Roscoe ’97
Kevin Matthews ’96
Kristin Dono Casillo ’98
Kyle Doctor ’09
Kyoko and Stephen Redd (Parents of Justin Redd ’05)
Lauren Giugliano ’07
Leigh Marchant ’99
Lowell Taub ’96
Margaux Viola ’07
Mario and Deborah Boiardi
Mathew D Norfolk ’95
Matt Cooney ’97
Matt Robbins ’07
Matt Shulkin ’96
Matt Wise ’98
Matthew Mitchell ’97
Matthew Somma ’96
Max Seibald ’09
Meredith Scardino ’98
Michael Capasso ’94
Michael Fronk ’95
Michael J. Levine ’93
Michael LaRocco ’96
Michael Niccolini ’93
Michael Riordan ’04
Michael Rodgers ’05
Michael Voris ’99
Mike Corbolotti ’08
Mike Haushalter ’82
Mike Regan 
Mitch Belisle ’07
Mitch McMichael ’12
Nina Roosevelt ’96
Oliver Guinness ’95
Patrick Leahy ’91
Peggy Clayton (Aunt of Brian and Andrew ’07)
Peter and Pat Boulukos (Parents of ’00 and ’06)
Peter Grom ’09
Pierce Derkac ’10
Ralph & Peg Turri (Parents of Troy Turri ’08)
Rebecca Taub ’96
Rich and Nancy Belisle (parents of Mitch Belisle ’07)
Rob Pannell ’13
Robert and Annette Corbolotti
Rocco Romero ’09
Ryan Hurley ’10
Sacha Ross ’95
Scott and Vicki Campbell (parents of Tanner Campbell ’99)
Scott Raasch ’04
Sean Greenhalgh ’05
Steven and Anne Langton (Parents of Chris Langton ’12)
Steven Kay ’94
Susannah Johnson Keller ’98
Tanner Scott Campbell ’99
Tim Randall ’07
Tee Cahill ’08
Tom Corbolotti ’08
Tom Gellert ’94
Tommy Schmicker ’09
Travis Lamb ’93
Troy Turri ’08
Vikas Varma ’97
Will Brassel ’02
  • Cornell Greek Guy

    Obviously, the wrong person got fired. Consensual drinking by adults is not a fireable offense. Dragging the university, the lacrosse program and the players through the mud not once, but twice is.

  • Jay Wind

    Since the day that Mr. DeLuca became head coach, hazing has not been allowed under Cornell policies. There is no reason to believe that the one reported hazing incident was an isolated event, and it appears that similar incidents occurred in prior years.

    Either hazing within the lacrosse team took place on Mr. DeLuca’s watch and he had no idea what was going on with his team or Mr. DeLuca knew but did nothing to stop it. Either way, Mr. DeLuca failed his team and failed the Cornell community. It may be that “We have no doubt that DeLuca will win a national championship” but it will be on a hazing-free team. Similarly, we hope that all Cornell teams will go forward hazing free.

    • Cornell Greek Guy

      There was no hazing, as almost every expert and state law in the nation define it. Hazing has become the catch-all term for anything the university thinks is bad.

      • Jay Wind

        Drinking under the age of 21 is against the law in New York State. Serving alcohol to a freshman under the age of 21 is against the law in New York State. Putting the freshmen in a circle and forcing them to drink is not only a bad idea, but it is illegal. Either Mr. DeLuca knew it was happening or he should have known. So, the letter is unconvincing because it does not address the facts surrounding the decision to fire Mr. DeLuca.