Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon announced John Paul as the first head coach of the newly elevated varsity men’s lacrosse team, which will commence Division-I play this fall for the 2011-12 season.

Paul led the Wolverines for the past 14 seasons at the club level, compiling a 122-44 record at the helm and winning three national championships in the past four seasons.

“I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to lead Michigan into Division-I lacrosse,” Paul said in a press statement released Friday. “I want to thank Dave Brandon for believing in me, but most importantly for his commitment to this great sport. I can’t wait to get started.

“I’m proud and I’m honored — incredibly honored — and I think that’s something that everyone who’s associated with our program going forward feels. We’re all pioneers, a little bit, and as much as this program has a rich and proud tradition … this is absolutely something new.”

Brandon announced the ascension of men’s lacrosse to the varsity level on May 25 at the Junge Family Champions Center, not yet naming Paul the coach, but saying he had a “great candidate in mind” for the job.

But he knew who he wanted, and Brandon wasted little time in sealing the deal.

“John Paul has been an integral part of our lacrosse program over the years,” Brandon said. “He has built the club program to a championship level and will help us make the transition to varsity status. We look forward to his leadership and guidance of our program.”

Paul’s Michigan team won back-to-back-to-back MCLA national championships in 2008, 2009 and 2010, but was knocked out of the semifinals this season by way of a 7-6 loss to Arizona State.

And in a sport typically dominated by East Coast programs, Paul has guided the Wolverines to a 108-3 (.970) mark in conference (CCLA) games.

But the rise to varsity status will bring plenty of competition for Michigan. Brandon said the Wolverines have applied for entrance to the Eastern College Athletic Conference, where they would join Ohio State, Air Force, Loyola (Md.), Fairfield, Hobart, Bellarmine and Denver.

“Certainly they’re going to be competitive challenges,” Paul said. “We’re used to winning, we’re used to winning at a pretty good rate. It’s going to be challenging to get back to that level, but that’s our goal over time.”

Paul graduated from the University of Michigan in 1994 with a history degree and three years of captaining the Michigan club lacrosse team under his belt.

But now he’s got his real work cut out for him. Paul will search for a coaching staff and hit the recruiting trail this week.

“I’ve been telling everybody for months that I’ve got a closet in the office,” Paul said. “Every day I find out new things that we’re supposed to be doing, and I stuff the stuff in the closet. Last night after I signed on the dotted line, I got to open that closet door and it all came dumping out on top of me.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.