June 26, 2009
DeKALB - After six seasons as the leader of the Northern Illinois men's soccer program, Steve Simmons has accepted an offer to become the head coach at Oregon State.
"Steve has served Northern Illinois University tremendously for six years," said NIU Associate Vice President and Athletics Director Jeff Compher said. "His leadership, integrity, and passion for the game have vaulted our men's soccer program into national prominence, and serve as an example for all of our coaches to follow."
Simmons, who calls Oregon home, guided the Huskies to the 2006 Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championship. That year, Northern Illinois set a school record with 15 wins, and qualified for the NCAA Tournament, where the Huskies advanced to the second round for the first time in school history and finished the regular season ranked 26th in the nation.
Simmons said there were very few places and situations that could draw him away from DeKalb, but OSU offered all the right pieces.
"With the opportunity at Oregon State, there were just too many compelling points that made it the perfect match for me and my family," Simmons said. "And it was going to take something like that to leave NIU, because of the sweat equity, and the people here that I've come to love and respect."
Simmons guided the Huskies to double-digit victories four time, including in 2006. After taking over a program that had won just 11 total games in the previous three seasons, Simmons compiled a record of 59-47-13 (.550) at NIU, with signature wins over No. 2 SMU and No. 9 Northwestern.
"Getting the program to championship contention is something that you can see with the wins and losses," Simmons said. "But the greatest accomplishment is being able to be a part of the journey of some terrific young people, to see them grow, to see them learn, and to see them accomplish some things on the field, in the classroom, and in life after NIU."
Under Simmons' guidance, the Huskies also succeeded academically. Two Northern Illinois players, Andy Champion (2003) and Kyle Knotek
(2008), garnered Academic All-America honors, while NIU student-athletes have been selected to the All-MAC Academic Team eight times since Simmons' arrival in 2003.
The 2009 Huskies will return nine starters from a team that won 11 matches and took top-seeded Akron to double-overtime in the MAC Championship game. It was the fourth time in five seasons that Northern Illinois finished second or better in the league under Simmons.
A search will being immediately for Simmons' replacement.
"We look forward to continuing to compete for conference championships, and excelling at the highest level of college soccer" Compher said.