May 31, 2010
By Kevin Scheitrum
Blame the Corrigan Family Baby Boom.
If not for the seven children that the Corrigan clan produced, Gene Corrigan might have stayed a lacrosse coach, instead of taking on all those slashes. Never mind that those slashes helped make him one of the most revered men not only in lacrosse, but college sports, history. But with a smaller household (and a better paycheck), Gene Corrigan, the coach/sports information director/athletic director/ACC commissioner/NCAA President/Virginia Sports Hall of Famer could have remained Gene Corrigan, lacrosse coach.
“He got out of coaching because he thought he didn’t have any choice,” said Corrigan’s son, Kevin, the longtime head coach of the D-I championship-bound Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team. “In 1967, he was the head lacrosse coach, the head soccer coach and the sports information director at the University of Virginia, and he made less money than I make at a two-day camp now.”
It’s an exciting, if a little conflicted, time for his dad, Kevin Corrigan said. Not only does he get to watch his son guide Notre Dame to the national championship game for the very first time in the program’s 30-year history, he also gets to watch his alma mater, Duke – where he played four years of lacrosse and where his son, Boo, works as a senior assistant AD – try to grab its first-ever national title in that very same game Monday (3:30 p.m. ET).
“My father went to Duke,” Corrigan, who graduated from Virginia and has been at the helm of Notre Dame lacrosse since 1989. “My uncle went to Duke. My brother works there. So I took ’em all off speed dial for this week. I’m not talking to any of them.”
Corrigan’s connection to Duke doesn’t stop with the family name. He credits Duke athletic director Kevin White, formerly the Notre Dame AD, with helping to revive his career at a point when Corrigan’s resolve had begun to lag – crediting White for, in a sense, helping Corrigan get to a point where he could pay back his old boss with another championship defeat.
After the 2005 season, Corrigan went to White feeling like he’d in some way let the program down. Like he’d let himself down. After a 2001 campaign that saw the Irish set a school record for wins and reach the NCAA semifinals for the first time, Notre Dame missed the Tournament for four straight years.
“Personally, I can tell you that six years ago, I was not enjoying what I was doing the same way I should,” Corrigan said. “I was not doing it as well as I thought I should have been doing it, and Kevin White had a huge influence in me kind of finding my center a little bit.”
Notre Dame has made every Tournament since.
This all came after White helped to usher Notre Dame to a level where it could even fall from.
“He is without question one of the best guys in the country at what he does,” Corrigan said of White. “He was great for Notre Dame, what he meant to our program. We were a non-scholarship team, without our own facility.
“He’s great at what he does,” he said. “He raised the level of the every program at Notre Dame.”
And now Corrigan, just the second coach in the history of the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team, is just one win away from taking his program to a level only six teams in the history of D-I men’s lacrosse have experienced – including the 1972 Virginia squad that won the title in his father’s second year as AD in Charlottesville…just five years after he stopped coaching the men’s lacrosse team.
For more coverage of NCAA men’s lacrosse, click here.