National Lacrosse Hall-of-Famer John Desko announces his retirement

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — National Lacrosse Hall-of-Fame coach John Desko has announced his retirement. 

After news broke over the weekend, Desko made things official Monday.  

“After talking with my family, I have decided to retire. I had planned on making a formal announcement later this week and will be addressing this decision in the near future – but in the meantime I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my family for all their support. My wife, Cindy, has been by my side every step of the way. I would not have been able to do this without her. I also want to thank all of the players who’ve been part of this program and the coaches for making my career so special. Moving forward, I’ll continue to be one of the program’s biggest supporters and I look forward to watching the team alongside Coach Simmons Jr. in the Dome.”

John Desko, SU’s National Lacrosse Hall of Fame coach announcing his retirement.

Syracuse women’s lacrosse coach and legendary men’s player, Gary Gait, will take over the men’s program. 

Since taking over for the legendary Roy Simmons, Jr. In 1999, Desko led Syracuse to five national championships and a 273-99 record. 

Desko began his Syracuse-career as a player, playing for Simmons, Jr. From 1976-79 earning All-American honors in 1979. After his playing career, Desko joined the Syracuse staff, helping build SU into the dynasty it would become. 

“John Desko’s career as a player, assistant and head coach at Syracuse is truly remarkable,” said Director of Athletics John Wildhack. “John was part of all our national championships, first as assistant to Coach Simmons Jr., then five as head coach.  John has impacted thousands of young men in his career at Syracuse. His legacy is one of greatness, commitment to his student-athletes, staff and Syracuse University. John is a hall of fame coach and a hall of fame person.” 

Since Syracuse’s last national title in 2009, the Orange has changed conferences, winning the ACC title in 2015, but had trouble reclaiming the national championship prowess the program had demonstrated from 2000-09. 

After a pandemic-shortened season in 2020, one in which Syracuse was ranked number one at the time, SU returned a stellar roster in 2021. But after a disappointing 7-6 season, which ended with the program’s third-straight first round NCAA Tournament loss. 

The 2021 season was also marred by the suspension and arrest of star attackman Chase Scanlan. Scanlan was suspended and arrested for an alleged off-the-field domestic incident. Desko, who reinstated Scanlan just eight days after his indefinite suspension, came under fire for the situation. 

Despite the rocky ending, Desko’s coaching career will go down in history as one of the best the game has ever seen. Not only for his individual achievements but the number of successful players he coached. Desko had 75 okaters earn a total of 135 All-American honors, including the likes of Mike Powell, Mike Springer, and Mike Leveille who each earned the nod four times. 

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