JU women’s lacrosse coach Mindy McCord leaving for USF

Longtime Dolphins coach built program into a nationally recognized team

The Jacksonville University women's lacrosse team has thrived under coach Mindy McCord. The longtime coach was named the Atlantic Sun Conference coach of the year on Wednesday. (Kevin Talley, News4JAX)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Longtime women’s lacrosse coach Mindy McCord is leaving the program she built at Jacksonville University for a chance to do the same at USF.

McCord was named the head coach of the Bulls on Tuesday afternoon and will seek to build USF from the ground up. She did that at JU, including turning the Dolphins into a national name during her 13 years there.

McCord went 170-62 with the Dolphins and led JU to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament this year after beating Stanford 20-8. JU led the country in scoring for the seventh time (17.21 goal per game). Under McCord, the Dolphins won 10 Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championships. The Sweet 16 appearance this year was JU’s second straight after beating Vanderbilt.

“I am incredibly humbled to take the reins at USF. Trust me, it had to be the most perfect of opportunities to cause me to leave such a strong labor of love that JU was in my life,” McCord said in a statement. “I will forever treasure my relationships at JU and will always remember the incredible success we built from 2010 through last season. I am grateful to so many friends and supporters at JU who supported our program’s journey there.”

After starting her NCAA coaching career at Oberlin College in 1997 and later went to McDaniel College where she won 61 career games.

McCord got her start locally at Nease High School and later co-founded the Lax Maniax travel program with her husband, Paul, who was a special teams consultant with the Jaguars for several years.

“There are very few coaches who have made an impact on Jacksonville University the way Mindy McCord has. Our lacrosse programs are nationally prominent because of her. She took the dream of an institution wanting to be a destination for lacrosse and made it a reality,” athletic director Alex Ricker-Gilbert said in a statement. “Mindy has put our young women first each day for nearly fifteen years. She epitomizes what we look for in a student-centered head coach.”

McCord’s history of building a program from scratch was a big reason why USF courted her. She said that she wasn’t looking for another job and when she was offered the position, she found it to be at once a difficult choice, but ultimately the right one.

“It was a hard one,” McCord said. “I wasn’t looking and so, you’re confused, right? You’re like, ‘Wait a minute, I’m, I’m a JU lifer.’ I’m almost speechless.”

McCord’s visit to the USF campus where the vice president of athletics, Michael Kelly interviewed her, took her thoughts from “JU lifer” to “first coach in USF women’s Lacrosse history” in just a matter of days.

“Michael Kelly, what a transformational person and leader,” McCord said. “He’s definitely a rare breed of athletic director in terms of how he approaches people. And I just saw really amazing alignment with their president, their board of trustees the growth of the school, and just really went over with him what I felt the competitive disadvantages were that we had struggled with for like a decade and, and he really was listening. He just spent a lot of time listening, and just decided that, ‘We would never, we won’t let you have any competitive disadvantages. And he just said, “We’re gonna give you a seven-year contract, which is unheard of, for women’s lacrosse. That doesn’t happen, When he offered it to me and removed all of the worries or situations that I would be opposed to I was like, well, then my question now is, why not?”

As she did at JU, McCord will be building the USF women’s lacrosse program from the ground up. She hopes for the same success as she had at JU, but it’s not the wins and losses she is most proud of from her time with the Dolphins.

“I’m proud of the culture that we built,” McCord said. “I’m proud of the relationships that we’ve established. I’m proud of the success that we’ve had. It’s been a mission of building great positive relationships, where young women can live their dreams and pursue whatever academic career that they want. And to work to be a top 20 program and compete and the NCAA level was truly icing on the cake.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.