PHILADELPHIA - A player and later an assistant coach during the heyday of the University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse program in the 1980s, Jim Stagnitta returns to the program as an assistant coach. The announcement was made recently by Penn’s James H. Greene, Jr. Head Coach of Men’s Lacrosse, Mike Murphy.
As a student-athlete at Penn, Stagnitta was a three-year letterwinner while earning a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1984. He helped lead the Quakers to Ivy League titles and NCAA Championship appearances in both his junior and senior seasons. After that, Stagnitta began his collegiate coaching career as an assistant with the Quakers, helping lead them to a pair of NCAA Championship berths including a trip to the semifinals in 1988.
Overall, Stagnitta brings 27 years of experience to the coaching staff, and he has a proven record of success at the highest levels of lacrosse. He holds a career professional and amateur record of 226-136 (.624), and has guided teams to seven NCAA and two MLL playoff appearances.
"We are very excited to have Jim Stagnitta and his family return to Penn,” said Murphy, who enters his sixth season as Penn’s head coach in 2015. “This is a tremendous opportunity to bring back someone with strong ties to our program, a wealth of experience as a coach, and proven success at every level of coaching. Jim was a player and then a coach on some of the best teams we've had in 114 years of lacrosse here at Penn, and he has also been the national coach of the year in NCAA Division I and Major League Lacrosse. Not only is he an excellent coach, but he will also be a tremendous role model for our players, particularly because he earned Ivy championships as a player and as a coach, and he lived the life of a Penn student-athlete. We are very happy to have Coach Stagnitta return to Penn, and I'm very much looking forward to working with him and our staff each day to compete at the highest level and provide our players with the best possible experience here at Penn.”
“I am honored to have the opportunity to join the coaching staff here at Penn,” said Stagnitta. “I appreciate Coach Murphy's efforts in making this possible. I am excited to return to the University that has played such a major role in every aspect of my life. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Mike and Pat Myers and continue to build on the recent successes Penn Lacrosse has enjoyed. As an alum, I have been very impressed with the resilience and passion of this team, and now to be a part of the program is truly exciting for me.”
Stagnitta returns to his alma mater after spending last year as the head coach at nearby Arcadia University. The Knights posted an overall 6-8 in Stagnitta’s first season at Arcadia, setting a school record for wins in a season, and finished just one game out of a Freedom Conference Tournament berth.
Prior to arriving at Arcadia, Stagnitta spent two seasons leading the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse (MLL) to two first-place finishes in the regular season with a combined 26-4 record. Denver went 11-3 and advanced to the MLL championship game in 2012 while establishing five team records, including wins and a single-season MLL record 229 goals. Stagnitta was named the MLL Coach of the Year after the Outlaws had another record-setting season in 2013, going 14-0 during the regular season before being upset in the MLL semifinals.
Stagnitta’s previous collegiate coaching stop was at Rutgers University, where he led the Scarlet Knights to 58 victories in 10 seasons -- placing him fifth on the program’s career victories list -- and back-to-back NCAA Championship appearances in 2003 and 2004. Stagnitta was named U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) and Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Coach of the Year in 2003 after engineering the biggest turnaround in Division I lacrosse history, leading Rutgers to a 10-5 record after the team went 2-12 in his first season.
Stagnitta’s first head coaching position was at NCAA Division III Washington and Lee University, where he has more wins than any coach in the program’s history. In 12 seasons there, he guided the Generals to a record of 136-42 that included 12 consecutive top-10 national rankings, six conference championships, and five appearances in the NCAA tournament.
Additionally, Stagnitta is the owner and operator of MVP Lacrosse, one of the largest lacrosse camp programs in the country with more than 4,000 athletes attending each year nationwide. From 2001 to 2004, he served as president of the USILA.