It looks like Marquette athletic director Bill Scholl is going to get to make his second head coaching hire before his first hire coaches a game.
On Wednesday morning, Inside Lacrosse’s Ty Xanders reported that Marquette men’s lacrosse head coach Joe Amplo would be taking the same job at Navy. The report was confirmed by Chris Jastrzembski over with our SB Nation friends at College Crosse.
Amplo was the first head coach in Marquette program history, going 52-53 in his seven seasons of competition. He won Big East tournament titles in 2016 and 2017, giving the program its first two NCAA tournament appearances in years #4 and #5 of existence. Amplo built Marquette’s men’s lacrosse team from literally nothing — the team hasn’t even spent one full regular season in their first ever on-campus locker room — up into a nationally relevant program with speed that can only be called extraordinary.
He’ll head to Annapolis and the Naval Academy to replace Rick Sowell, who was fired after eight seasons. Sowell won three Patriot League titles during his tenure, but only qualified for one NCAA tournament after earning an at-large bid in 2016. Navy has a history of being a perennial national contender in men’s lacrosse dating back to the 1970s up through the Richie Meade era in the 1990s and first decade of the 21st Century. Sowell went just 54-56, and thus the people steering the ship (get it?) elected to make a change.
I suspect that Amplo will be successful at Navy. Recruiting at the Naval Academy is interesting, as you have to limit yourself to players who, y’know, want to be at the Naval Academy. However, Amplo’s biggest successes at Marquette came with guys who signed up to play for a program that either A) didn’t exist at all or B) barely existed at all. If Amplo can win with players who were essentially going to be overlooked at the Division 1 level if it weren’t for a brand new program looking to fill out a roster, then he’s probably going to be able to win with players who are willing to undergo the rigors of being a midshipman and playing Division 1 lacrosse.
And so Marquette begins the first men’s lacrosse coaching search in program history where there’s something of an insistence on hiring someone quickly. When MU hired Amplo, they had all the time in the world, as the new coach was going to be building the program from the ground up. Now there’s an existing program that needs recruiting and maintenance, and that means hiring someone sooner than later. Our friends at College Crosse threw out a few names: Navy Interim Head Coach Ryan Wellner, Denver assistant coach John Orsen, and Marquette associate head coach Stephen Brundage. Orsen and Brundage were Amplo’s first two assistants waaaay back in the day, while Wellner was Rick Sowell’s assistant at Navy and at Stony Brook before that.