On Wednesday morning it was announced that Fairfield head coach Andy Copelan was stepping down from his duties after eleven years at the helm of the Stags program, and had accepted a position as the Major Gifts Officer for Athletics Advancement and Head Coach of the Boys Lacrosse program at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut.
With this Fairfield opening there are now three division one men’s lacrosse head coaching positions currently open. While Navy and Harvard have the history and are unique institutions in their own right, Fairfield is much different from either of those positions in terms or level or play and type of institution.
Fairfield is more of a stepping stone job and a who ever takes over will have a lot of building to do after multiple losing seasons. The good thing is that success can be attained at Fairfield, as shown during Copelan’s tenure. The Stags have some good talent on their roster, but they just need a man to lead the ship in the right direction.
Sacred Heart head coach Jon Basti is a potential candidate that Fairfield is expected to reach out to about the job. Basti is a Fairfield alum and was an assistant there from 2005-2008. Basti has helped lead Sacred Heart to new heights as a program, including a 2017 season that was the Pioneers best in their DI history.
Basti is the obvious favorite this early on in the search. He has experience as a coach throughout Connecticut having spent time as a coach at Hartford, Fairfield, and Sacred Heart. Being an alum of Fairfield and the success he has had at multiple stops makes him a prime target.
While Basti is expected to be a top prospect for the Fairfield job, it is still a question as to if he would want to leave a good thing at Sacred Heart and come back home, in a sense.
Fairfield associate head coach Andy Whitley might be an option if they want to promote from within. He is the only coach left on staff as Fairfield has parted ways with assistant coach Colin Hulme as well. Whitley has been at Fairfield for ten seasons and was promoted to associate head coach in 2015.
Towson associate head coach and offensive coordinator Anthony Gilard and Hartford assistant Corey Bulken could also be two possible candidates that Fairfield reaches out to about the open position as well.
Gilard is more likely to stay put at Towson, but has been contacted for other mid-major head coaching jobs in the past, such as UMBC. Gilard has been at Towson since 2013 and has helped lead the Tigers to a lot of success, including a final four appearance in 2017 and numerous CAA championships.
While Bulken is younger and lesser known he could possibly do a good job at a program of Fairfield’s caliber, if given the chance. Bulken has been at Hartford since 2017 after being an assistant at Ohio State where he helped lead the Buckeyes to the NCAA championship game. He is the offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator at Hartford.
Ohio State’s Brad Ross, Johns Hopkins Bobby Benson are two other names that could potentially be thrown around as they have been mentioned in other coaching searches as well. Either of them coming to Fairfield may be a stretch
It’s also worth noting that Quinnipiac and Holy Cross had coaches on an interim basis this year with Mason Poli and Peter Burke, so there could be some movement there as well.