PCI: Who is the Greatest Coach in PC History?

by The Cowl Editor on October 10, 2019


Ray Treacy

By Meaghan Cahill ’20

Sports Co-Editor

Ray Treacy providence college cross country
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

There have been a number of coaches at Providence College who have contributed to forming the school’s reputation for having a top Division I athletic program. From former basketball coach Joe Mullaney to current hockey coach Nate Leaman, there have been many great coaches at PC. However, when weighing them against one another, it can be argued that Ray Treacy ’82 has been the greatest PC coach thus far.

The director of cross country and track, Treacy has been coaching at the College for the past 33 years. A member of the men’s cross country team during his time as a student at PC, Treacy has an extensive list of both champion runners and championship teams under his belt and is considered one of the nation’s most successful coaches.

Treacy has coached 65 All-American runners, who together have received a total of 176 All-American accolades and seven NCAA individual championships. Treacy’s coaching has led to 15 NCAA individual titles and 45 Big East individual champions, who combined for 117 Big East titles. He has also coached 11 Olympians. 

Under Treacy, the women’s cross country team has won two NCAA Cross Country Championships (1995 and 2013), 14 NCAA Northeast Regional Cross Country Championships, 22 Big East Cross Country titles, and 20 New England Championships.

Under Treacy, the cross country teams have won the most championships of all of the teams on PC’s campus and the women’s cross country team is the only team besides the 2015 men’s ice hockey team to win a NCAA Championship title.

While only the women’s cross country team has been able to win the NCAA Championship, Treacy has successfully coached both the men’s and women’s programs to make seven NCAA Championship appearances; four of the seven appearances were back-to-back.

In addition to coaching successful men’s and women’s cross country teams, Treacy has also found tremendous success as a track coach. Throughout his career, Treacy has coached nine athletes to individual NCAA track titles and coached a team to setting the world record in the 4X1500 meter relay in 1991.

In addition to his success as a coach at PC, many of Treacy’s runners have gone on to compete internationally. To date, he has had more than 10 runners compete in the 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2012 Olympics. Treacy himself has also reached an international level; at the U.S. national level, three of the top five athletes in the women’s 10,000 meters at the USA World Championship Trials were coached by Treacy.

Treacy’s record alone speaks to the fact that he is the greatest coach PC has had to date. His ability to put together teams that continuously compete and win at the highest level is a job that not many coaches on campus have been able to do. His collegiate and international success demonstrates that he not only knows his craft, but that he is the best of the best and the College is lucky to have him.

Nate Leaman

By Joseph Quirk ’23

Sports Staff

Nate Leaman providence college men's hockey
Photo Courtesy of PC Athletics

Providence College has been very fortunate to be the home of a plethora of talented and famous coaches over the years. Picking just one as the greatest coach in school history has proven to be quite a difficult task. However, in the entire history of Providence athletics, no coach as had a more dominate run than current Friars men’s hockey coach Nate Leaman. 

Coach Leaman took over the Friars bench in 2011 and since then there have been only two seasons (his first two) that the Friars did not qualify for the NCAA tournament. And in both those seasons, 2011-12 and 2012-13, the Friars made it to the semifinal round of the Big East Tournament. In addition, every year that Leaman’s squad has qualified for the national tournament, they have not been eliminated before the regional semis, which includes a 2014-15 National Championship and a 2018-19 trip to the Frozen Four. 

Leaman’s team this year also looks strong as they beat the University of Maine 7-0 in the home opener this past weekend. In addition, this year’s squad features eight players who currently have their draft rights owned by NHL teams. 

Leaman’s stretch of success with the men’s hockey program goes unmatched by any other coach in the school’s history.

The first coach to make a conference or NCAA tournament appearance (a semifinals loss) was Tom Eccleston in 1961-64. It would be another 13 years before the Friars made another NCAA tournament. 

Before Nate Leaman, no team placed better than third in the tournament. Leaman won the first hockey national championship in school history. He stacks up well with coaches from other sports too. 

The first notable name that could be thrown in is Joe Mullaney for basketball, but he coached in the ’50s and ’60s and only had two NCAA tournament appearances. Dave Gavitt had five, including trips to the final four and sweet sixteen, but again that was in the 1970s and Gavitt never placed higher than fourth. Rick Pitino had a short but memorable stint as the Friars leader but only served as coach for two years. Ed Cooley has also made the NCAA tournament five times but unfortunately has never made it past the second round.

There are many others as well, but I think the point is evident: Nate Leaman and what he has accomplished as a strategist, recruitor, and coach as well as what he looks to accomplish in the future establishes him at the greatest coach in PC history.