May 1, 2008
DeKALB, Ill. - After leading the Northern Illinois men's soccer program to its most successful four-year run in school history, head coach Steve Simmons has been rewarded with a four-year contract extension, Interim Director of Athletics Robert Collins announced Thursday.
"I'm very happy to extend the contract of Steve Simmons, a pillar of strength within our department" Collins said. "His impact has been felt not only in the rebuilding of our men's soccer program, but through our whole department. He is a veteran that I am glad to keep in the Huskie family for many years to come."
The agreement between NIU and Simmons, who had been discussing terms of a new contract for several months, locks in the 2006 NSCAA Great Lakes Coach of the Year and two-time Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year through the 2011-12 season.
"It's great for my family and me, first and foremost," Simmons said. "It allows us to have some continuity in what we're trying to do in the men's soccer program, which is to build consistent champions."
Simmons coached the Huskies to 45 wins over the last four years. During that time, NIU has totaled a 45-28-7 (.606) record, including a 13-8-1 (.614) mark in conference play.
The banner year for NIU men's soccer came in 2006, when Simmons led his team to a 15-6-1 season that included winning the MAC regular season and tournament championships, and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies totaled 14 shutouts, a school record, and goalkeeper Joe Zimka set an NCAA record by allowing just 0.21 goals against per match. Northern Illinois was ranked as high as 19th that season in the NSCAA Top-25, and recorded an unblemished 9-0-0 record at home.
Simmons' teams have consistently earned quality results against top-level opponents since his arrival. In 2005, the Huskies defeated Saint Louis and Wisconsin. A year later, as part of the MAC Championship season, NIU bested Michigan State, Portland, Akron, Wisconsin, UW-Milwaukee and tied Notre Dame. The 2007 season saw an upset of the ninth-ranked team in the nation, Northwestern, and another 0-0 result with the Fighting Irish.
In his five seasons, Simmons has coached 20 All-MAC selections, including newcomers of the year Curt Zastrow
(2004) and Marcus McCarty
(2006). Student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom under Simmons, who has coached five Academic All-MAC players.
For the 2008 season, Simmons will coach the Huskies on an upgraded field. The former NIU Soccer Stadium is being renovated to add a track facility. As part of that renovation, the current soccer field is being replaced with a Fifa II-Star Certified surface, the top-rated artificial turf in the world.
"The contract goes hand-in-hand with our upcoming schedule, our new facility, and our student-athletes, all of which are on the same positive trajectory," Simmons said. "When you put it all together, it is attractive to top recruits, and is in line with what we want to do here, which is win championships."
The Huskies went 7-9-4 during the 2007 season, falling in double-overtime of the MAC Tournament semifinals to eventual conference champion Akron.