Gary Gait is leaving the Syracuse women’s lacrosse program to take over as the fifth head coach of the men’s lacrosse program, a source confirmed. He takes over for John Desko, who is expected to announce his retirement over this next week. The news was first reported by Inside Lacrosse. Syracuse.com's Brent Axe reported that a name to watch as Gait's defensive coordinator is former Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Piettramala.
Gait spent 14 seasons as head coach of the women’s program, compiling a 213-75 (.740) record. He led the Orange to eight Final Fours and three National Championship games during those 14 seasons. He was named Conference Coach of the Year four times and IWLCA Regional Coach of the Year four times as well. This past season, he led Syracuse to the National Championship (where the Orange lost 16-10 to Boston College) despite injuries to three key starters, including two of the sport’s best players.
Prior to taking over as the head coach at Syracuse, Gait was an assistant with Maryland where he won multiple National Championships.
Prior to his coaching career, Gait was one of the most accomplished players in lacrosse history. He played at Syracuse from 1987 to 1990, compiling 192 goals and 253 points. He invented the famous move the “Air Gait” in 1988. The play is when a player dives from behind the net for a mid-air shot without breaking the plane of the goal crease. It remains one of the most historically significant moves in lacrosse to this day. Gait was a four-time USILA All-American at Syracuse, three times a First Team selection. Syracuse won three National Championships during his four years with the Orange and he was named the 1990 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player. After playing at Syracuse, Gait played professionally for the NLL and MLL over the course of 19 seasons. He was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2005, the NLL Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2006, Gait led Canada to the World Lacrosse Championship, the country’s first since 1978.
Now Gait takes over the most storied program in men’s college lacrosse. Syracuse is number one all-time with 11 National Championships and 27 Final Fours. Since 1916, a span of 105 years, Syracuse men’s lacrosse has only had four head coaches. Gait becomes the fifth and will look to lead the Orange back to national prominence. Syracuse has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2017, has not been to the Final Four since 2013 and has not won a National Championship since 2009. This will be Gait’s first coaching job in men’s college lacrosse. However, he was the head coach of the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth. The Mammoth won the NLL championship in his first season as head coach.
Mike McAllister contributed to this report.