RMU Fires Women’s Coach McGonagle

Just eight games into its women’s team’s first season, Robert Morris has fired its head coach.

Kevin McGonagle was dismissed Thursday, effective immediately, will be replaced on an interim basis by assistant Jody Katz for the remainder of the 2005-06 season. Current men’s assistant coach Nate Handrahan will then take over on a permanent basis.

The reasons for McGonagle’s firing were not immediately known. The Wesleyan alumnus previously coached the Bowdoin women on an interim basis in 2003-04, while head coach Michele Amidon was on leave. McGonagle led the Polar Bears to a 20-5-1 mark and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

Prior to that, McGonagle was head coach of the men’s programs at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts from 2001-03, and at Massachusetts-Boston from 1996-2000.

“It’s unfortunate that we had to make a coaching change in the middle of our inaugural season,” said RMU director of athletics Dr. Craig Coleman. “However, we are fortunate to have a coach of Nate Handrahan’s quality already here in the RMU family. He is excited about the challenge of taking a program in its infancy and making it nationally prominent.”

“I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to be a head coach at this stage of my career,” said Handrahan. “I am also very happy to be in Pittsburgh and at RMU as my family and I have come to enjoy this area a great deal. I want to thank Dr. Coleman for the chance and belief in my abilities.”

Handrahan is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Colonials men’s team, his fifth season of coaching overall.

He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Niagara, during which time the Purple Eagles earned a bid to the NCAA tournament in 2004 by winning the CHA tournament championship. As a player, Handrahan helped the 1999-2000 Purple Eagles to a memorable 30-win season which culminated in a berth in the NCAAs and a stunning first-round victory over New Hampshire.

“My experiences starting programs will definitely be something that I rely on,” said Handrahan. “I have seen how hard you have to work in order to have a successful result and I plan on helping the girls understand that. Starting a program is a special thing that you cannot duplicate and I am very excited to be doing it again.”

The former defenseman was a two-time All-ECAC West selection. He played in all 129 games over his four-year career and holds Niagara records for career games and consecutive games played. Handrahan earned the team’s “PAW” award in 1997-98 and the “Unsung Hero Award” in 1999-2000. He finished with 13 goals and 66 assists for 79 career points.

“I am excited about the challenges ahead as the interim head coach and I am honored that the administration has the confidence in my abilities to lead this program through its first year in history,” said Katz, who commended Handrahan’s selection. “I am fortunate to have 16 very special individuals to work with and guide. Their persistence, patience, desire to succeed and commitment to the program should be commended through all of this.”

Robert Morris, a CHA member, is 1-7-0 overall this season.