The Loyola men’s lacrosse team began the season 4-2 and was ranked No. 14 in the nation by Inside Lacrosse March 9. Greyhounds head coach Charley Toomey joined Glenn Clark Radio March 16 to discuss the cancellation of the rest of the season, seniors possibly getting a fifth year and more.
The Patriot League announced March 12 that all athletic events and practices for the spring season were canceled effective March 16, so Loyola had a chance to play its regularly-scheduled home game against Bucknell March 14. The Greyhounds and Bison initially thought one last game would serve as a way to send out the seniors.
Toomey: They were on board. So we go out and practice and all of the sudden we’re … having a meal together as a group and one of our kids gets a text from one of the Bucknell kids and they said, “We’re not coming now. They canceled it.” As obviously information started to happen very quickly, we just felt like there’s no reason to even try to pursue this. We had other teams that we were contacting in the Patriot League. They were interested in doing it. Again, I think smarter heads kind of came together on this thing and said, “Listen, it’s time to get these kids off campus and home with their families.” And so that’s what we did. We kind of shut it down.
The NCAA announced March 13 that “eligibility relief is appropriate for all Division I student-athletes who participated in spring sports,” meaning a fifth year of eligibility for seniors who played spring sports this year is very much on the table. The Greyhounds met as a team before the NCAA’s decision was announced, but Toomey told the seniors what could be coming down the pike.
Toomey: We just wanted to see how we could help [them], number one. Who’s gainfully employed? Who needs help with that? Where are you in the process with that? Are there guys who might be interested in obtaining a master’s and staying here at Loyola with us for another year? We already knew that Ryan McNulty and [John] Railey were planning, based on injury, to be back for a fifth year. So that leaves us with seven [seniors]. That’s a conversation. I said, “Listen. You’re going to have some time with your family. Go home and reflect and think about what you what, and know that this could be a possibility that’s coming.”
The next question becomes how the NCAA will handle a fifth year for players whose senior seasons were cut short this year. Outside of McNulty and Railey, the seniors on Loyola are as follows: midfielders Cole Boland, Riley Cox, Logan Devereaux, Matt Higgins and Peter Swindel; defenseman Alex Johnson, and goalkeeper Joe Tabor.
Toomey: From a financial standpoint, one thing I have heard is that if you’re a senior and you’re on a partial grant, that you would be eligible for that partial grant in your fifth year but no more. There’s a lot of speculation. There’s a lot of things that are kind of being thrown around. There will be ramifications and I do think it’ll be institution to institution as to how you can handle it financially to make it work for these kids. I do know that the Patriot League’s a little bit at a disadvantage because we can’t bring in transfers for our graduate program. They have to be guys who have graduated and matriculated from Loyola as an undergrad. That’s a Patriot League rule. Just like the Ivys and the Patriots, we know our challenges, but also we’re very fortunate that we do have the opportunity for guys who want to get an Emerging Leaders MBA here.
With high school sports and recruiting also shut down, Toomey is taking a different tact than he normally would after the end of a season. Online classes for students began March 18, so Toomey is making sure all of his players are good to go on that front.
Toomey: When you lose, whenever it is — whether or not it’s in the Patriot League tournament or whatever, final eight, final four — you get in the car the next day and go watch a high school game. That’s just what we do. That’s kind of therapy to get on 95 and just get in there and drive. That’s what’s not happening right now, and rightly so. Everything is shut down. I’m still at work, but it’s making sure that our guys are prepared for online classes, making sure that they’re prepared for registration. Our juniors [had registration March 18] and they have to do it online. It’s really touching base with our guys and making sure that they’re handling what they can control. I would imagine that most coaches are doing that right now. It’s really not about recruiting at that moment. It’s really making sure that your guys have a plan and that they’re following through with their plan. The worst thing that could happen is obviously these guys go home and whether or not it’s a social decision or a decision to just be a little bit lazy academically, it changes their path. That’s what we’re all doing.
For more from Toomey, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Loyola Athletics