Southern Illinois University men’s soccer Head Coach Scott Donnelly has resigned his position to accept the position of Technical Advisor for the Northeast region with the United States Soccer Federation (U.S. Soccer). SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt accepted Donnelly’s resignation last week.
“First of all this is a great thing for Cougar Soccer, our department, university and Coach Donnelly,” Hewitt said. “U.S. Soccer came to recruit him. We are extremely excited for Scott. Each of us will have a colleague, mentor and friend in the highest level of U.S. soccer. He did not pursue this opportunity, but, he was wise and brave enough to ‘seize the day’; a once in a life time opportunity.”
Donnelly assumed the head coach role with SIUE men’s soccer in December and led the Cougars through an unbeaten spring season, including the program’s first Governor’s Cup since 2005. Donnelly was to lead SIUE in his first fall season as the Cougars’ head coach when he was approached by U.S. Soccer with the professional opportunity.
“I would like to first thank Dr. Brad Hewitt, Dr. Julie A. Furst-Bowe and the SIUE athletics department for the opportunity to lead the men’s soccer program here at SIUE,” Donnelly said. “The support of men’s soccer at SIUE is first-class and Dr. Hewitt is an integral ingredient of this support; his leadership and mentoring are highly important to SIUE athletics as a whole.”
With U.S. Soccer, Donnelly’s responsibilities will include scouting and talent identification for the Youth National teams, technical advising for Development Academy clubs in the Northeast region of the country and working with the Youth National teams in a coaching capacity.
“Ultimately, and after careful consideration, the opportunity to work with our Federation, Development Academy teams and Youth National Teams was one that I felt I had to take at this point of my career,” Donnelly added. “While I look forward to this opportunity and challenge with U.S. Soccer, it was not without an assessment of the health of the SIUE men’s soccer program that I decided to move on. It is very bittersweet to depart a place where I felt at home after a short tenure as Head Coach. I wish everyone involved with the program, and especially our student-athletes and coaches, the very best as they move forward.”
Prior to being named SIUE’s head coach, Donnelly spent two seasons as the associate head coach. He joined the staff prior to the 2012 season and helped lead the Cougars to two successful seasons.
Donnelly helped guide the team to a spot in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament in 2013. SIUE appeared in the NSCAA/Continental Tire Division I national rankings, for the second consecutive season. He was instrumental in the development of six MVC All-Conference performers, including defender Matt Polster, who was an All-Midwest Region honoree by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) – his second consecutive All-Region recognition.
During his first season with the Cougars in 2012, Donnelly helped direct the program back into the national spotlight. SIUE completed the campaign with a 13-7-0 record, setting a program mark for single season wins in the current Division I era.
Over the course of the 2012 season, SIUE was ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation in both the national rankings and NCAA RPI, while advancing to the title game of the MVC postseason tournament for the second time in three years before narrowly falling to No. 8 Creighton 2-1.
In recognition of the program’s success, the SIUE staff was named the 2012 Missouri Valley Conference Coaching Staff of the Year.
Known nationally for his eye for talent, Donnelly’s recruiting prowess yielded immediate results at SIUE. The program has garnered national attention for consecutive years with inclusion in College Soccer News’ Top 40 Recruiting classes in 2013 and 2014. SIUE was the only MVC program recognized.
The Cougars’ 2013 recruiting class was lauded by TopDrawerSoccer.com as one of the best nationwide, holding the No. 38 spot – again making SIUE the only Missouri Valley Conference institution to be recognized.
“I feel that the program has grown significantly in my time at SIUE, and that it is poised for sustained success,” Donnelly said. “This is a quality group of student-athletes whose recent growth as people and players has made it all the more difficult to make this decision.”
Donnelly also enjoyed nationally recognized recruiting classes in three seasons as the associate head coach at Northern Illinois.
SIUE has tabbed current assistants David Korn and Brian Jones to take over following Donnelly’s leaving. The two will serve as co-head coaches in 2014.
“The direction and mission (for the program) is still the same, we want to accomplish an MVC championship and an invite to the NCAA tournament,” Hewitt added. “We have knocked on that door several times in the past four years. Now, our leadership must change, thus, I have decided to promote Coach Korn and Coach Jones to co-head coaches for the season. We will consider the long term future after the MVC Championship.”
Korn joined the program in February following three seasons as an assistant at Wright State, of the Horizon league. He spent the past two seasons as the Raiders’ associate head coach. Korn’s first year with the program was the Raiders’ first winning seasons in 10 years. Wright State’s 11 wins in 2011 also marked just the third time in the previous 17 seasons that the program won 11 games or more.
Previous to his stint at Wright State, Korn was an assistant coach at the University of Denver from 2008-2010. He also spent one season (2007) as an assistant at Lehigh and has extensive club coaching experience.
The 2014 season marks Jones’ seventh season with the Cougars, making him the longest tenured member of the staff. Jones has served as SIUE’s goalkeepers coach and has enjoyed unprecedented success. John Berner earned 2012 and 2013 MVC Goalkeeper of the Year honors, and is now playing with the Colorado Rapids of the MLS after being selected with the 35th overall pick (second round) in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft. Previously Jones helped mentor goalkeeper Nick Frasca who finished his career as SIUE’s career leader with 21 shutouts.
“Every bit of feedback I have received on both of these gentlemen has been outstanding,” Hewitt said. The student-athletes like and respect them. Their character and values, which are most important to me, are superior. Both are extremely detailed and organized. Both have passion, desire, determination, presence, intellect and toughness.”
The Cougars begin preseason training Sunday and play host to Oakland in an exhibition game Friday at Korte Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.