161 days after announcing that it would join the America East Conference as a full Division I member (including the addition of men's lacrosse), Massachusetts-Lowell finally got around to naming a Supreme Democratic Lacrosse Dictator. The River Hawks, set to take fancy bus rides around the country with Scarface blaring from itty bitty televisions starting in the 2015 season, seemingly meandered through their coaching search, finding their man on the arbitrary timeline that the school set (July 2013), doing so after Sacred Heart and Hobart -- the only two schools at the college game's highest level that needed to fill head coaching vacancies this summer -- discovered bodies that required the filing of new W-4 payroll forms.
Ed Stephenson, a native of Baltimore, Md., was named the Head Men's Lacrosse Coach at UMass Lowell, Director of Athletics Dana Skinner announced Saturday.
Stephenson, who was the associate head coach at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County the last two years, comes to UMass Lowell to restart the men's lacrosse program which was discontinued after the 1989 season. Both the men's and women's programs are slated to open in the spring of 2015.
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UMass Lowell's men's lacrosse team will be the second program Stephenson will build from the grassroots. In 2001, he started the program at Binghamton University and enjoyed success within his first three years.
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Stephenson will begin his position on Aug. 1.
"Recruiting is paramount, so we'll begin that process immediately," he said. "We will focus on hardworking student-athletes who will be ready to play good lacrosse and receive a good education at an affordable cost. The first year is quite a challenge for that first group of recruits, but with that challenge comes a great reward."
Stephenson starts in a tough spot: Not only is the entirety Massachusetts-Lowell's athletic department making the difficult transition to Division I, but Stephenson will guide the school's men lacrosse program through that process without the benefit of two full recruiting seasons at his disposal before the River Hawks start play. The 2012-2013 contact period comes to a close on July 31st; the 2013-2014 contact period ends on August 5th, enters its quiet period on August 6th, moves into its dead period on August 13th, and goes into a two-month contact period without lacrosse evaluations on September 1st (not to mention the fact that virtually all of the major summer recruiting events are over). Stephenson -- and whatever staff he can piece together -- needs to act quickly and efficiently, pulling together a roster of high level talent on short notice (both from the preparatory ranks and, likely, from the transfer market). As the recent crop of schools that have elevated to Division I status have shown, playing at the college game's most competitive level carries with it a level of having your face smashed in; those schools, unlike the River Hawks, suffered through that existence with lead time to put a program in place with sufficient recruiting time. Massachusetts-Lowell, contrastingly, is going into this difficult process with just enough gas in the tank to hopefully make its destination.
Stephenson has some nice bona fides, but he's entering a situation that is going to need him to bend reality in his favor.