M.L. Lagarde has excelled in every aspect of sports – as an athlete, coach, media member and administrator.
Lagarde graduated from St. Aloysius High School in 1945, and while in high school, he was already laying the groundwork for a long career in athletics. At the age of 15, as a playground supervisor, he co-founded the CYO and NORD tennis programs.
After high school, Lagarde moved on to Tulane University, where he would become a part of Emmett Pare’s nationally ranked tennis program. Health issues would allow Lagarde to play only one season for the Green Wave, but before his playing career was halted, he was named to the U.S. Junior Davis Cup team.
Lagarde earned his bachelor’s degree from Tulane in 1952 and went on to earn a master’s from Loyola University. While he was still in school, however, he began a successful high school coaching career.
In 1949, he returned to his prep alma mater as assistant football, basketball and baseball coach. In 1952, he took over as head coach in basketball in baseball. Working with fellow Hall of Famer Johnny Altobello, St. Aloysius won consecutive state basketball championships from 1951-53, losing only three games in those three seasons.
In 1954, Lagarde moved across town to Jesuit High School, where he served in the same roles for five seasons.
In his 10-year coaching career, which spanned much of the golden era of prep sports in New Orleans, Lagarde helped lead teams to 12 city and eight state championships. He also coached in a pair of high school all-star games.
Though he moved into private business in 1959, Lagarde maintained a hand in the local sports scene, covering high school and college sports for The Times-Picayune for 15 years before being named sports information director at Tulane in 1974.
Lagarde would spend 31 years at Tulane, first as SID and later as assistant athletic director and associate athletic director, before retiring in June 2005.
Working in an era before the days where high-end technology made communications as easy as the push of a button, Lagarde was a master at developing personal relationships with local and national media. He was instrumental in Tulane landing an unprecedented four consecutive network television appearances in football in 1979-80.
Lagarde’s work in media relations extended beyond the Tulane campus. He was an aide de camp to former Louisiana governors Dave Treen and Edwin Edwards, coordinated media and press box activities for the Sugar Bowl for 12 years, spent 10 years on the NCAA Final Four’s media committee and another four years working with CBS’ coverage of the event.
Additionally, he was the media coordinator for the first Final Four in the Superdome in 1982, part of his role at Tulane, and the first Major League Baseball exhibition games in 1976. Lagarde would later work behind the scenes to secure legislative approval of the New Orleans Arena in 1993.
His induction into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame is only the most recent honor for Lagarde, many of which have come from his peers. The Louisiana Sports Writers Association presented Lagarde with the Mac Russo Award in 1984, and in 1993, the LSWA honored him again at its Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame ceremonies with the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism.
Lagarde has also received writing and publication awards from both the LSWA and the College Sports Information Directors of America, and in 1999, the All-America Football Foundation presented him with the Scoop Hudgins Lifetime Achievement Award.