Exactly one year ago today, Major League Lacrosse commissioner David Gross announced he would be stepping down from his post following the 2017 season. Fast forward one year later, and he’s still there.
It’s been 126 days since the conclusion of the 2017 season, and there’s been zero information or updates during the entire search. When former NLL commissioner George Daniel announced his resignation, it took the league 44 days to name their new leader (h/t Ryan Conwell).
Since The Announcement
What’s happened in the span of a year? Let’s start off with the good news.
The Ohio Machine won their first ever MLL Championship down in Frisco, Texas over the Denver Outlaws. 7,543 fans watched the game, which was the highest crowd for a title game since 8,149 fans saw the 2014 MLL Championship.
The Rochester Rattlers moved to Dallas. Leaving Rochester hurts a little and nobody wanted to see the team leave, but the league now has a footprint in a growing hotbed in Texas. Most of the Rattlers also chose to stay with the team following the move.
Gross also helped get MLL games on Twitter for free, following in the footsteps of the NLL. This helped grow the league with fans that don’t subscribe to Lax Sports Network, which Gross oversaw the channel’s launch.
The league’s All-Star Game, one of two MLL games that aired on CBS Sports Network, was a 21-20 overtime finish in Sacramento. The MVP also got $10,000 instead of $1,000 thanks to New Balance. Myles Jones decided to split it with his team.
But there’s been some not so good news.
The big one was the league accidentally releasing personal information of some players. Gross would address the issue when the investigation was completed, according to the league. He hasn’t yet. But the league sort of did, in a statement to LSN:
The reason for “sort of did” is because LSN analyst and current Denver Outlaw Josh Hawkins tweeted out it wasn’t an official statement, but something else:
To many, the league’s statement sounded like it was an official statement. Sometimes, official statements are also responses to questions asked.
Going back in time to July, the Boston Cannons traded points leader Will Manny and Joe LoCascio to the New York Lizards for Dave Lawson and Chris LaPierre. But in reality, the Cannons got nothing in return. Lawson retired and LaPierre decided to not report to his new team.
Back in November, when the league bought back the Atlanta Blaze, we discovered former Blaze owner Peter Trematerra sued the league in April. Trematerra accused Gross of misinterpretations of the league when negotiating for a team back in 2014.
They also haven’t done a good job promoting their product either. Their Player of the Week press releases had multiple grammatical mistakes one week before I reached out to the league with corrections, which they took. The MLL Collegiate Draft was a mystery until 24 days before the actual event took place. It was held the Sunday of Championship Weekend in Foxborough during the Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
The question that has lingered throughout the past 365 days has been who would lead the MLL after Gross? We reached out to Gross in regards to an update on the search.
In July, Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette provided some news in regards to the search:
MLL owners are counting on the new commissioner to spearhead the development of new media partners. Dave Gross, the first and only MLL commissioner, announced his retirement prior to this season and his successor is slated to be named within the next month or so.
Chesapeake president Mark Burdett is a member of the search committee charged with hiring a new commissioner. [Brendan] Kelly said a short list of candidates has been identified and the process is nearing an end.
Kelly believes the fragmented nature of men's lacrosse in the United States is not good for any of the stakeholders. US Lacrosse oversees the national team and various development entities, college lacrosse is administered by the NCAA while the National Lacrosse League provides the indoor professional outlet.
"Lacrosse is an extremely fragmented sport, from top to bottom. US Lacrosse is doing its thing, the NCAA is doing its thing, the MLL and NLL are doing their things," Kelly said. "We should all be working together as a unit to grow the game. This sport is in desperate need of leadership and vision. I would like to see Major League Lacrosse take a more active role in bridging those gaps."
More than five months later, there’s no official update. If the data breach never occurred, would this be a question today?
Right now, it’s all speculation and throwing out names. Would Dave Cottle have been a candidate if he decided to not return to coach the Chesapeake Bayhawks?
One name I did hear being discussed when talking to a current MLLer was Paul Rabil. Some players think Rabil would be a great candidate based on the ideas he has to grow the league and push it in the right direction.
However, Rabil does not want to give up playing just yet. And even if he wanted to keep playing, he does not want to handle double-duty as a player-commissioner.
As the calendar turns to 2018, Major League Lacrosse is getting very close to possibly having Gross lead them for another season, even though he intended to step down after 2017. So far, not having a new commissioner a year after Gross’ initial announcement isn’t good. But there’s a little less than four months until the regular season commences.
Players, coaches, and fans deserve some type of update from the league or Gross himself. The MLL and lacrosse communities have waited long enough for an answer. The league has made it a non-issue by keeping quiet on the topic.
The league’s supplemental draft is set for January 17. We’ll see if the league has a new commissioner by then, or even any updates on his replacement.