Hall of Famer Bill Tierney hired as Waterdogs coach, GM

Bill Tierney retired from coaching NCAA lacrosse in 2023 after seven national championships. Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Bill Tierney, a seven-time NCAA champion as a head coach and a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, has been named the new coach and general manager of the Premier Lacrosse League's Philadelphia Waterdogs.

The Waterdogs had an opening after Andy Copelan resigned following the 2024 Championship Series. He also led the Waterdogs to the PLL championship in 2022.

"This is a huge deal," said Paul Rabil, co-founder and president of the PLL. "His résumé is unlike any other coach in history -- the field at USA Lacrosse HQ is named after him."

Tierney returns to the sideline after 42 seasons coaching in the NCAA. He led Princeton to six national titles from 1992 to 2001, and the 2015 championship with Denver, which was the first title for a team located west of the Appalachian Mountains. He also led Team USA to a gold medal in the 1998 world lacrosse championships. He retired from coaching Denver in 2023.

"It was time," Tierney said of his decision to leave the Pioneers. "But I love what Paul and Michael [Rabil] are doing with the PLL. I've still got a passion for this great sport."

Rabil added that there was "no arm-twisting" to get Tierney to sign on as Waterdogs coach and GM.

The coach takes over a team that is among the PLL's top contenders, and has one of the sport's top attackmen in Michael Sowers. There are also some familiar faces in Denver alumni Ethan Walker and Jack Hannah.

"It's nice to be reunited with Ethan and Jack," Tierney said. "They can help interpret my message for the other guys."

The task at hand is more about making tweaks as opposed to a major turnaround, the coach noted, adding that he wasn't looking to alter the culture given the Waterdogs' recent success. The toughest challenge will be in managing a roster that features veteran players as well as young ones just out of college.

"He's a student of the game and brings an intensity and top-level expectation of performance," Rabil said. "He'll definitely hit the ground running. Plus, the experience coaching Team USA will give him an edge, having worked with a roster of various aged players."

The coach has changed a bit since then.

"In '98, I was in my prime as a micromanager," Tierney said. "But I met with some of the older players and we worked out how to approach the game and our attitude, and we worked it out."

The 2024 PLL regular season begins the weekend of June 1 and June 2 in Albany, New York.