St. Bonaventure has raided Little Three rival Canisius, hiring away Randy Mearns to take over as head coach of the new men’s lacrosse program that will debut in the spring of 2019.
Mearns starred at Canisius as a player and has spent the past 19 years coaching the Golden Griffins’ men’s team. He directed Canisius to NCAA tournament berths in 2008 and 2012 and carries a prominent profile in the sport.
He starred for both the Buffalo Bandits and Rochester Knighthawks of the indoor professional league and was coach of the Canadian national team that won the World Championship tournament in 2014 in Denver.
“Everyone who knows Randy talks about his energy and his vision to move things forward,” said Bona athletic director Tim Kenny, in announcing the move Tuesday. “He’s coming to St. Bonaventure to create something special, and with Randy at the helm the sky is the limit for this program. His reputation in the lacrosse world is huge. We’re going to build this program from the ground up into a championship contender.”
“As the process went, this became more and more of a great fit,” Mearns said. “The opportunity at St. Bonaventure really intrigued me; when I came on campus I was immediately inspired. This is a gem of an institution. I think we can really build something special here.”
Mearns career record at Canisius is 100-157. He’s 74-65 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, with 11 seasons of .500 or better.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life basically at Canisius and loved every minute of it,” Mearns said. “The relationships I’ve built, being able to work with student-athletes has been an incredible experience.”
St. Bonaventure plans to ramp up to the maximum of 12.6 scholarships allotted for men’s lacrosse over the next four years.
“From a family standpoint, they made a significant offer that was great for us,” Mearns said. “And understanding what their vision is to move the program forward, I feel excited for the opportunity. I get to take 19 years of the learning experience from when I first started at Canisius, and now I have a clean slate and can apply them going forward to a fully funded program.”
The men's lacrosse team will play its home games at the Tom and Michelle Marra Athletics Fields Complex, which was re-dedicated in September 2014 following a $1 million donation from its namesakes with a new artificial turf playing surface. St. Bonaventure needs to find a conference for its lacrosse team because the Atlantic 10 Conference does not sponsor the sport.
“I think over a period of time something will come to fruition,” Mearns said. “We’ll have to apply to conferences and see what’s the right fit from a geographical standpoint and a resource standpoint.”
“His history in our program is unmatched, and we appreciate his contributions in helping us build the program to where it is today,” Canisius athletic director Bill Maher said in a statement. “While we are disappointed that Randy is leaving Canisius, we wish him well in the next step of his career. Canisius is committed to the goal of building a program that will annually compete for conference championships.”
Brendan Murphy, an aide to Mearns the past four years, will serve as interim coach will the school conducts a search for a replacement to Mearns.