Coach Harkins Is Leaving FSU? Wow.

A lot of tradition going on right there.

Read the Press Release from Florida State Lacrosse, which is below, to learn more from the team about the dismissal of Bill Harkins as the Head Coach at FSU. After you’ve read the presser, I add in some opinion, and a little commentary. But really, I want to know what YOU think about this situation. BE HEARD in the comments. This is big.

The Florida State Men’s Lacrosse team dismissed long-time head coach Bill Harkins earlier this week.  During his ten years with the program, Harkins led the Seminoles to a record of 152-45, won three SELC Championships, and earned seven bids to the MCLA National Championship.  He was named the SELC Coach of the Year in 2004, and the MLCA National Coach of the Year in 2009.  While serving as head coach at Florida State, Harkins spent six years as a coach with the German National Team.  He coached in two European Championships, and the World Lacrosse Championship. 

 “If it were not for Coach Harkins, FSU Lacrosse would not be where it is today,” said former Seminole All American DJ Romanchuk, “He brought an attitude that was all about winning, but importantly, he was able to bring the absolute best out of his players by using an individualized approach.  He approached coaching like he did everything else—by pouring his whole life into it.  Many of us became an extended part of his family, and for that I am extremely grateful that he is a part of my life.”

In addition to working as head coach, Harkins became an active part of Florida State University and the Tallahassee area.  He served as a Board Member for the Seminole Boosters, met with university groups to offer advice on fundraising and program building, and is the benefactor of the turf facility which now bears his name and is used by Florida State lacrosse, football, and the Marching Chiefs.  He organized coaching clinics for youth and high school coaches in the state.  Harkins served as director for the Tallahassee Possums youth lacrosse teams, Seminole Lacrosse Camp, and the Challenge for the Seminole Cup youth lacrosse tournament.  These efforts gave hundreds of youth lacrosse players the opportunity to play lacrosse in Tallahassee each year. 

Many of these efforts went unnoticed, said former FSU team captain Chris Sjogren.  “Coach Harkins did more for FSU than anyone can ever truly appreciate,” he said, “Both on and off the field, Coach bled FSU and was always there for his players.  As a player, it is impossible to always see eye-to-eye with your coach, but I loved the four years that I had with him.  It was my pleasure to play for Coach Harkins, and I will never be able to fully thank him for everything he did for me, and the program.  No one will ever be able to think of FSU lacrosse without thinking of Coach Harkins.” 

“He was a great coach, but more importantly, he’s a better person,” said former All American Corey Noonan, “I went through some tough times in my life, and Coach was always there for me, no matter what.  He’s a father figure for me.  Everybody knows what he did as a coach on the field, but I think what he did off the field was more important, and I’ll always be grateful for what he did for me.”

When asked about his time at Florida State, Harkins said, “Most of the best times of my life were spent with the men I have had the privilege to coach.  I will hold them close to my heart the rest of my life.” 

A replacement has not been named.  According to a team statement, a national search will be conducted to find the next Seminole head coach. 

Ok. From the press release statements, it sounds like yet another rosy departure for a long-time MCLA Head Coach. Plenty of platitudes are handed out, and no concrete reasons for the dismissal are offered whatsoever. Was it time to move on? Is FSU seeking a new direction? Was it time for some change? I’d love to see even one reason given, but none are, and to me, that makes this dismissal nonsense.

Why is it nonsense?

Because the above presser is filled with the things we ALWAYS hear from MCLA teams when they let a coach go. ALWAYS. It’s like there is a template press release for firing coaches or something. Pay compliments, skirt the issue, and try to move on quietly. Coach Harkins supported this program in earnest, for a long time, and the best we can do is a flowery letter announcing his departure? Sheesh.

What really happened at FSU may or may not come to see the light of day, but we do know that we’re not getting the whole story here. Of course, that’s nothing new.

Cue up a couple articles by current or former MCLA Coaches on how they fear for their jobs constantly, and the annual cycle will be complete.

My point is: when a coach has helped transform a program, and has been the guiding force for so long, don’t they deserve more than this? I know that club teams are run by players to a large extent, but in some places, the coaches really step up and make a huge difference. Bill Harkins was one of those coaches. Why would FSU let him go?


  1. I remember tournaments where FSU didn’t show up with a big chunk of their team for various reasons while the teams that were competing for championships always brought everyone, even if it was during finals or well after school was over. It always made me question the real commitment to winning there. (Yes, yes academics and jobs come first, but other teams that were in the final four every year found ways to get both done.) Is it an example of a team that never put the same year-round and all-encompassing priority on winning as some of the other teams? Was this on Harkens? Was it on the players?

    If the team truly wants to win championships then they will have to approach things the same way the best teams do. If a coaching change is a necessary part of making that happen, then they know better than any of us do. But if they are saying they want to take the next step and really compete, but they aren’t really willing to make the necessary changes, then letting someone like Harkens go is questionable at best. Time will tell.