SYRACUSE — John Desko is a proven winner who helped build and continue the tradition of Syracuse University lacrosse as the sport’s preeminent program, with a tremendous list of accomplishments in the sport — now he can add Hall of Famer.
Desko will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 class, meaning all-four head coaches of the storied program — Laurie Cox, Roy Simmons Sr., Roy Simmons Jr. and Desko — have now been enshrined.
Overall, 29 former Orange players and coaches will be in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame following Desko’s inclusion, including 12 players that he coached.
“I’m honored to be inducted to the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame,” Desko said.
“I’ve been so fortunate in my time at Syracuse to be surrounded by incredible players, coaches and administrators, which made the success of our program possible.
“I’ve had tremendous mentors in my career as well, Mike Messere got me into lacrosse, Bill Wormuth was my high school coach and Roy Simmons Jr. helped me grow as a coach,” he said.
“None of this would have been possible without my parents. Their support allowed me to go to Syracuse University and helped me in every aspect of life. I owe all of them and many more a thank you for helping me achieve this honor.”
Following the conclusion of his playing career at Syracuse in 1979, Desko joined Simmons Jr.’s coaching staff as an assistant, winning six NCAA championships (1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993 and 1995), before taking over as head coach in 1999 and winning five more (2000, 2002, 2004, 2008, 2009).
Desko is the only coach in NCAA Division I history to be on the sidelines for 11 national championships.
He sits now as the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I with a .750 win percentage. He’s one of three head coaches to win five or more NCAA titles at Division I.
Desko also has the third-most wins in the NCAA Tournament (34) and has the fifth-best NCAA Tournament winning percentage (.694).
Between his time as a head coach or assistant coach, he has compiled 487 victories and lost 129 games (.791 winning percentage). Including his time as a player, Desko has been on the sidelines for 522 of the program’s 917 wins. Desko has been part of more wins than all-but 18 schools have as total victories all-time at the Division I level.
He has also mentored some of the game’s most legendary players. Syracuse players have garnered 264 All-America overall nods since he joined the Orange coaching staff. He coached three Tewaaraton Award winners and eight Lt. Raymond J. Enners Award winners as national players of the year, and 28 players who were named national player of the year at their respective positions.
The two-time national coach of the year, Desko shepherded the Orange into the ACC in 2014, where he is the first coach in ACC men’s lacrosse history to earn coach of the year honors four straight seasons.
In the 10 seasons since Syracuse first joined a conference in 2010, Desko has guided teams to nine conference titles, with five regular-season crowns (two ACC, three Big East) and four tournament titles (two ACC, two Big East).
While Desko has blazed a trail of success right since taking the helm of the program, he just recently met requirements to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. A coach must be at least 20 years active to be enshrined while still coaching.
Desko is currently in his 22nd year at the helm of the Orange program.
He is the third current Syracuse head coach to be inducted into their sport’s respective National Hall of Fame, joining Jim Boeheim (basketball) and Gary Gait (lacrosse), who was inducted as a player.
His Hall of Fame class includes Bob Bordley (coach/Landon School), Roy Condon (official), Ericka Leslie (official), Lisa Griswold Lindley (coach/Darien High School), Laura Harmon Schuman (player/Maryland), Joe Seivold (player/North Carolina), Amy Appelt Slade (player/Virginia).