May 24, 2012
DEKALB, Ill. -- Northern Illinois has extended the contract of men’s soccer head coach Eric Luzzi through the 2015 season, NIU Associate Vice-President and Director of Athletics Jeff Compher announced on Thursday.
"Eric Luzzi has proved himself to be a championship coach and this contract is a reflection of his success so far and the confidence we have in him going forward,” said Compher. “We are very pleased he wants to remain at Northern Illinois for the long term. He's committed to us and we're committed to him.
"Eric has done an excellent job of recruiting and building our program in a very competitive league for men's soccer. Men's soccer is becoming a premiere sport in the MAC and we're excited to do everything we can to capitalize on it."
Luzzi receives the extension after leading the Huskies to a school record-tying 15 wins and a trip to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament in 2011. NIU was one of three schools from the MAC to play in the NCAA Tournament a season ago, along with Akron and incoming men’s soccer affiliate member West Virginia.
"I would like to thank Jeff Compher, Associate Athletic Director Debra Boughton and Senior Associate Athletic Director Christian Spears for offering me this contract extension and for making the whole process very easy,” said Luzzi. “I think that my personality and skill set as a coach is a good fit for NIU and that NIU is a great fit for me personally. I have truly loved the six years I have spent here and look forward to being here for the foreseeable future."
This past season, Luzzi guided NIU to a 15-6-0 record en route to a Mid-American Conference championship and a bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Northern Illinois was ranked as high as No. 13 in the adidas/NSCAA national poll and No. 16 in the RPI during the 2011 campaign, finishing with a program-best RPI of 24. Following the season, five Huskies received All-MAC honors and four players received NSCAA All-Great Lakes Region honors -- the most in the region.
"I am extremely proud of the program that we have helped to build here at NIU,” Luzzi continued. “I am fortunate to have one of the best coaching staffs in Division I soccer, we have a very dedicated group of players who have bought into our vision of being one of the elite teams in Division I soccer and we have an administration that wants our program to succeed at the highest level. Add to that the fact that I am a Chicago guy, and there is really not another school in the country that I would rather coach right now than NIU. I can't wait until we get back together with our guys in August to continue to build on the success we had last season and work with our guys to give them the best Division I soccer experience in the country."
Luzzi was hired as the eighth head coach in program history on July 1, 2009. In his first season as head coach, Luzzi led the Huskies to a 10-8-1 record, making him the first NIU men's soccer coach since 1969 to have a winning record in his opening season. Luzzi’s first season was highlighted by a tie against top-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill, as well as victories over Oregon State and Wisconsin. During his second season at the helm at NIU, Luzzi’s squad posted a 9-6-2 record, including victories over Northwestern and Wisconsin.
Through his first three seasons as the head coach of the Huskies, Luzzi has a .623 winning percentage, the second-best mark in school history.
The Huskies open the 2012 campaign on Friday, August 24 when they travel to face 2011 Final Four participant Creighton in Omaha, Neb.