April 8, 2021 

Rapid reaction as Colgate and its coach agree to part ways

Bill Cleary out after five years; national search begins

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Head coach Bill Cleary leads the huddle in his final game at Colgate. Photo credit: Colgate Athletic Communications

Head coach Bill Cleary is stepping down from his role leading the Raiders. Despite agreeing to a contract extension last year, Colgate and the fifth-year coach agreed-upon terms for his exit this week, The Next has learned. He steps away with an overall mark of 49-79 during his stint in Hamilton.

The Raiders struggled to a record of 1-8, prematurely ending the season following a 61-40 loss to Holy Cross on February 13. The program canceled its final five games after it fell below the NCAA minimum number of healthy student-athletes who could compete. This year, the squad lost four projected starters to season-ending injuries in Nia Ahart, Taylor Langan, Holly Lueken, and Ava Williams before league play began.

The bright spot for Cleary came last season. In 2019-20, Colgate finished 19-11 for the most regular-season wins in team history. It was just the program’s second winning season in 33 years of Division I competition, and its third-place finish was its highest in 16 years.

His tenure is also marked by a switch in athletic department leadership. Cleary was hired by former Colgate volleyball coach and alumna Vicky Chun, who served as director of athletics from 2012 to 2018 and now serves in the same role at Yale University. Nicki Moore came aboard as vice president and director of athletics in June 2018 and is overseeing the change in direction for the program.

The transformation marks the fourth coaching change in the Patriot League this off-season. Colgate joins Army, Boston University, and Loyola (MD) as teams that will enter next season with new leadership. The league has now seen changes atop six of its 10 programs in the last 12 months.

Colgate begins a nationwide search for its new coach this week.

Written by Todd Goclowski

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