Dartmouth Women’s Lacrosse Coach Departs After 26 Years

  • Big Green coach Amy Patton gives her players a pep talk in Hanover, N.H., on March 17, 2010. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Dartmouth womens lacrosse head coach Amy Patton talks with her team during a timeout in Hanover, N.H., on March 23, 2011. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Amy Patton didn’t find much to her liking during a 9-7 loss to visiting Southern California on March 28, 2015. Dartmouth dropped to 0-8 that season and would stretch its losing streak to nine games before finishing the season 3-11. Valley News file — Tris Wykes

  • Valley News file — Tris WykesAmy Patton signals her offense during a nonconference loss to visiting Southern California on March 28, 2015. Dartmouth College has suffered three consecutive losing seasons and parted ways with the longtime coach Friday. Valley News file — Tris Wykes

  • Amy Patton Mark Washburn photograph

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2016 2:55:26 PM
Modified: 7/9/2016 12:05:14 AM

Hanover — Dartmouth College and longtime women’s lacrosse coach Amy Patton have parted ways, the split announced in a Friday morning news release by the Big Green’s athletic department.

“Patton engaged in conduct inconsistent with the standards of Dartmouth athletics,” part of the release’s opening sentence read.

The release also described a college inquiry, “which began in April in response to a grievance,” but did not identify the complainant or whether that person or persons were members of the Big Green program. The inquiry “included interviews with Patton, current and former team members, assistant women’s lacrosse coaches and other athletic department and college staff.

“The inquiry was conducted by Megan Sobel, Senior Associate Director of Athletics for varsity sports and the division’s Senior Woman Administrator, and Catherine Lark, Director of College Risk and Internal Control Services,” the release continued.

Rick Bender, Dartmouth’s director of varsity athletic communications, wrote in a follow-up sresponse that “the college came to Amy and told her its findings brought them to the conclusion that change was in the best interest of the program. Confronted with this, Amy decided to resign her position.”

Bender noted the grievance did not involve any physical actions on Patton’s part and said the department would have no further comment Friday. Attempts to reach athletic director Harry Sheehy through Bender’s office were unsuccessful.

Patton did not respond to an email request for an interview. The semipro team she coaches, the Boston Storm, was scheduled to play United Women’s Lacrosse League games in Virginia on Friday and today.

“I adamantly disagree with the inquiry’s conclusion, as well as how the process was conducted,” Patton said in the Dartmouth release. “The assistant coaches and I care deeply about our players. We believe our coaching style has promoted personal growth among the players and produced women who can lead. … Sadly, I do not think it is possible for me to continue to work at Dartmouth.”

Patton was a standout field hockey and lacrosse player at the University of Maryland and was part of the Terps’ 1986 lacrosse national title squad. She graduated in 1988 and was a Dartmouth assistant for two years before becoming head coach in 1993. Her mentor, Josie Harper, was the Big Green’s head lacrosse coach from 1982-92 and the athletic director from 2002-09.

Under Patton’s leadership, Dartmouth was 248-138 overall and 119-44 in Ivy League play. It won nine league titles, made 13 NCAA tournament appearances, the last in 2013, and reached the national semifinals four times. Dartmouth played in and lost the 2006 national title game.

The Big Green was a top-10 program during 18 of Patton’s seasons, and she coached and developed 47 All-American players and 62 first-team All-Ivy players.

As recently as 2013, Dartmouth had a 17-game home winning streak.

Dartmouth has suffered three consecutive losing seasons, however, going a combined 16-27 during that span and 9-12 in Ivy play. The Big Green began the 2015 campaign 0-9 and finished it 3-11, the fewest victories since the 1982 team managed only two triumphs. The 2016 squad finished 7-8 overall and 3-4 in the Ivies.

Although inspiring fierce loyalty among her players, Patton’s fiery and blunt approach also caused friction. She once screamed at a Scully-Fahey Field timekeeper for not stopping the clock as quickly as she wanted during a game and was known as a frequent and vocal critic of referees, sometimes to her team’s detriment.

Last spring’s Big Green bailed her out of such a jam during an upset of visiting Pennsylvania in which Patton was slapped with a yellow card for telling an official she had missed a Quaker foul.

“I felt terrible about that, and I wouldn’t have asked the ref about it if I didn’t think it was a real missed call,” Patton, whose team surrendered a goal in the subsequent shorthanded situation and saw its lead sliced to a single goal, said after the game. “But I’ve also had yellow cards over the years where it really inspired the team. I felt like, yeah, they scored, but our team was ready to do whatever it took to win that game.”

Patton was every bit as tough as her players, which is why they were stunned when she missed the 2013 season opener at Oregon because she was suffering from severe pneumonia.

She used a cell phone and a live internet stream to stay in contact with the sideline that day and, after recovering somewhat, coached from a chair alongside the field in later contests.

However, that arrangement meant she couldn’t get out of the way of players charging out of bounds against Yale and was run over by them, resulting in a serious injury to her left hand.

Patton experienced steady turnover among her assistant coaches during recent seasons. The program has had 10 changes to the assistant coach lineup since 2010, generally employing two at a time, plus a volunteer coach.

One former assistant coach, onetime Notre Dame bench boss Tracey Coyne, brought a federal lawsuit that was settled by Dartmouth last November. The lawsuitalleged that Coyne was wrongfully terminated after missing weeks of work around the time of her father’s death and that she was denied overtime pay in other instances.

In response to the charges, the college said Coyne wasn’t entitled to time-and-a-half pay because she was a salaried employee and “(Coyne’s) own actions or inaction caused or contributed to the damages she seeks.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.




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