Richard (Dick) Watts, a member of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame who served as the men’s lacrosse head coach at UMBC for 23 years, passed away Sunday. He was 92 years old.

Watts led the Retrievers to the 1980 NCAA Division II championship and was named the USILA’s Coach of the Year that season. The championship was the high point of a coaching career in which he amassed 178 wins from 1971-93. 

As an administrator, Watts also served as UMBC’s first athletics director from 1967-85 and essentially built the school’s intercollegiate athletics program, overseeing the construction of facilities and ushering the Retrievers during a successful Division II era. UMBC men’s lacrosse moved to Division I in 1981 and the rest of the teams followed suit in 1987. 

“He was a huge influence in many of our lives,” said Joe Gold, who played for Watts at UMBC and was a member of the 1980 national championship team. “As hard-nosed and Knute Rockne and Vince Lombardi type as you think he was, he had a heart of gold. He was amazing as a person.”

Gold noted Watts’ significant influence at UMBC and within the greater lacrosse community.

“My freshman year we played in the playoffs,” Gold said. “My sophomore year we lost in the championship game and my junior year, we won it. My senior year was the very first NCAA Division I team. None of that was promised to us when we got there. He was a big force in that happening at UMBC and I think that gets overlooked. He was a strategy and a vision guy and had a huge impact in the Baltimore Metro area.”

Following his time at UMBC, Watts spent another 23 years at Stevenson University as that school’s director of physical education and as an assistant to the athletics director. He played a key role in helping to establish Stevenson as an NCAA Division III member.

A 1956 graduate of Johns Hopkins, Watts was a two-time All-American as a defenseman for the Blue Jays in 1955 and 1956 before playing in the 1956 USILA North-South game. Following his playing career, he became the coach at Baltimore Friends School. From there, he moved to Kenyon College and then to UMBC, where he enjoyed his greatest success.

Watts was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2008 as a truly great contributor, a nod also to his service as a member of the Lacrosse Foundation Board of Directors (1977-80 and 1984-86), the USILA president (1974-75), and as a member of the USILA’s executive board (1967-94). He was a past president of the US Lacrosse Greater Baltimore Chapter and chaired the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Committee from 1981-86.

“He was a true Hall of Fame coach at UMBC, especially when he won the Division II national championship,” said Bill Tanton, legendary sportswriter for The Baltimore Evening Sun, longtime columnist for Lacrosse Magazine, and a men’s lacrosse official for many years. “He was a tough coach on the sideline, I can tell you from experience. I officiated some of his games and Dick was quick to battle for his players. He was a tough guy.”

In total, Watts was a member of five Halls of Fame. In addition National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, he was inducted to the UMBC Hall of Fame, the US Lacrosse Greater Baltimore Chapter Hall of Fame, the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association Hall of Fame, and to the Stevenson Hall of Fame that also bears his name. 
 

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