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With his program struggling to get wins, Chris Bates faced an uncertain future at Princeton this past season.
But Bates sealed his own fate when he elbowed Brown University player John Yozzo-Scapperotta as Yozzo-Scapperotta was coming off the field in an April 2 game. That led to Bates’ immediate suspension and then firing by Princeton — with the video of the incident the talk of the lacrosse world at the time. (You can watch it by clicking here.)
Bates has now landed a new coaching position. It’s not at the collegiate ranks, but one of the nation’s top prep schools: The Episcopal Academy in Pennsylvania.
Bates, a former star at John Jay High School in Cross River (NY) and at Dartmouth University, was head coach at Drexel for 10 seasons before taking the Princeton job seven years ago.
On Thursday, Bates publicly commented for the first time on the controversial incident vs. Brown, his dismissal and his new position at Episcopal:
Letter from Chris Bates:
Dear Lacrosse Community,
It has been three months since the incident that resulted in my resignation from Princeton, and I have needed to let the dust settle completely before issuing a statement. In an emotionally charged game, I made a split-second error in judgment in the heat of a competitive moment. I owned the mistake immediately, apologizing to the opposing player and coach following the game. I expressed remorse and regret first to my son and my family, and then to my team and Princeton administrators. It was an unfortunate circumstance, and I regret putting Princeton in a difficult position. Was there more context to the event than what the five-second video showed? Absolutely, but it does not change the fact that my actions were wrong. I can only hope that my long track record of leading with character and integrity outweigh one moment.
I do know that I am very proud of what we accomplished in my seven years at Princeton. Under some unique and challenging circumstances, we experienced some wonderful achievements both on and off the field. It was truly an honor to coach such fine young men. The foundation of the program is rock solid, and I am confident that the next era of Princeton lacrosse will be very bright. Matt Madalon is an exceptional leader, and I look forward to rooting for, and taking pride in, the success of both the current and next wave of Tigers.
What’s next for me? Well, first and foremost, I recently got engaged. Melissa and I are excited to merge our lives and families. We both have similar experiences having lost our spouses too early to devastating illnesses. Her husband (John, a former high school teammate of mine and West Point lacrosse grad) lost his battle with ALS three and a half years ago. It is wonderful to have found love and happiness again, and Nicholas and I look forward to starting a new life with Melissa and her daughter, Eliza, and son, Charlie.
As was just released, I have also recently accepted a position to coach and work at Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, Pa. It is an amazing institution (episcopalacademy.org) and I am thrilled to immerse myself, and my family, in the EA community in every way. Having coached in the college ranks for 22 years at Drexel and Princeton, I am now looking forward to embracing this new life. The mission at Episcopal is “challenging and nurturing Mind, Body and Spirit to inspire boys and girls to lead lives of purpose, faith, and integrity.” It is a lacrosse program with a rich history. EA competes in one of the best high school conferences in the country and plays a top-level national schedule year in and year out. I am thankful for this wonderful opportunity. It will be exciting to take on new leadership roles all across campus.
I have been very public in my opinion about the state of college recruiting in our sport. The train is off the track and I hope to stay involved in working to advocate for much-needed NCAA change. As I get off the recruiting trail, it will also allow for more time to commit to Ann’s Love Builds, the foundation that Nicholas and I started after Ann passed. Our two main focuses have been: 1) an annual workday to serve underprivileged folks in local communities and 2) to support the building of a hospital in Ghana, Africa. The Ann Bates Memorial Medical Building is almost complete! Check out the AfriHope website (afrihopemissions.org). You can see a picture of the hospital in the front montage of photos – that’s Nick in the teal shirt! Follow “Ann’s Love Builds” on Facebook as we start to take next steps. Our hope is that the lacrosse community can rally around the marvelous work that ALB does.
That’s all for now. Thank you to all the folks who have shown such amazing support to me, and my family, especially over these last few months. Onward we go…
Yours in Lacrosse,
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