Intercollegiate Athletics Hires New Coaches for 2005-06

Posted: August 2, 2005 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

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In addition to the new students bustling about campus, the fall semester will bring new additions to the coaching staff in George Mason’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics (IA).

After eight years coaching men’s cross country and track and field at Stanford University, Andrew Gerard is taking over as head coach of the men’s track and field team. He brings substantial experience, having served as head track and field and cross country coach at the College of William and Mary. Gerard has been named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Coach of the Year five times for cross-country and once for track and field.

“Gerard’s background and success was very attractive,” says Tom O’Connor, assistant university vice president and IA director. “His credentials are impeccable—with nine years as a head coach, his leadership abilities have proven successful in the past. Coupled with the many accolades achieved, he was the person we [believed was] most qualified to bring this program to national prominence.”

The men’s basketball team, coached by Jim Larranaga, welcomes new assistant coach James Johnson. Johnson replaces Bill Courtney, who is leaving George Mason to take a top assistant coaching position at Providence College. Johnson has coached men’s basketball for the last two years at Pennsylvania State University and has also been on staff at the College of Charleston and Old Dominion University.

Chris Caputo was promoted from his position of administrative assistant and video coordinator to become an assistant coach for men’s basketball, replacing Eric Konkol, who left for personal reasons. Caputo is also a past assistant director of the Jim Larranaga Basketball Camp and codirector of Larranaga’s Junior Patriots Program.

Brian Shaffer, head coach of the wrestling team, resigned his position for personal reasons on July 29. He is a two-time CAA Coach of the Year and has led the team to three conference titles. In a statement, he said, “This has been one of the toughest decisions of my life, but I feel that I am at a stage where I need to spend more time with my family without sacrificing the guys and the program.” A replacement has not yet been named.

Burke Binning, formerly head coach of Texas Tech University’s women’s cross-country team and distance assistant coach of the women’s track team, is taking over as the top assistant coach of the women’s track and field team, under head coach Angie Taylor. Binning enjoyed success while at Texas Tech, helping to lead the women’s cross-country team to its most successful season ever in 2003.

The women’s soccer team, headed by Coach Diane Drake, welcomes Robert E. Liessem Jr., who will serve as an assistant coach supervising goalkeeping training. He comes to George Mason from Old Dominion University, where he was an assistant and a goalkeeping coach. Liessem has also served since 2002 as the Virginia Olympic Development Program’s head goalkeeper coach for the girls state team.

Despite all of the changes to the coaching staff, IA has not seen major staff changeovers in other areas. “We’ve had relative stability for the past 12 months,” says Richard Coco, IA assistant director of public relations. In terms of the department’s administrative staff, he points out that there have been no major changes, with all of the associate and assistant IA directors remaining in their posts.

For more information on Intercollegiate Athletics, visit the web site.

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