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Penn lacrosse community mourns passing of Jim ‘Ace’ Adams, 91, former coach

Thursday, 14th November 2019

Categories Boy's/Men's, College, Posted 11/14/19
From Press Release

Penn Athletics and the Penn Lacrosse family is mourning the passing of Jim “Ace” Adams. The 17th head coach in Penn men’s lacrosse history and fourth-winningest coach since the program’s founding in 1900 passed away on November 10 in Charlottesville, Va. He was 91 years old.

“Coach Adams was one of the great coaches and true gentlemen in our sport,” said Men’s Lacrosse coach Mike Murphy. “Ace set the standard for our program which we strive to live up to every day. He was a great teacher, coach, mentor and friend to many. I am thankful for all he has done for the sport of lacrosse and for the Penn Lacrosse program. He will be missed, but his legacy will continue.”

Adams, of course, is one of the great names in college lacrosse coaching. He was Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach at Penn from 1970-77, coming to Philadelphia after a standout 12-year career at Army where he won a trio of national championships and was the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) Coach of the Year in 1961.

The Quakers went a combined 51-34 under Adams’ tutelage, including a 10-2 mark in 1977 when the Quakers finished the year ranked fourth. Adams also led Penn to its first two NCAA Championship appearances, in 1975 and 1977. He coached 17 All-Americans at Penn.

In 2011, the Penn Lacrosse community recognized Adams’ contributions to the sport at the University with the dedication of “Ace” Adams Field at Penn Park – the practice home for the Quakers and the first facility at Penn to be named after a former coach.

Adams left Penn after the 1977 season to become the head coach at the University of Virginia, a job he held until his retirement in 1992. During his tenure there, he led the Cavaliers to 12 NCAA Championship appearances including seven semifinal games and two runner-up finishes (both times the losses coming in overtime). At the time of his retirement from coaching in 1992, he was second behind only Massachusetts’ Dick Garber in career wins (285).

What is perhaps most impressive is that Adams accomplished some of his greatest feats as a coach after he had been inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame; that happened in 1975, when he was still coaching at Penn. Prior to his coaching career, Adams played at Johns Hopkins where he was a three-time USILA All-America and played on three national championship squads. A superb athlete, Adams also played football and basketball for the Blue Jays.

A public Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.

Jim “Ace” Adams



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