Story courtesy of Central Michigan Athletic Communications
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich.
- Central Michigan University Athletics announced today the hiring of Neil Stafford as the Chippewas' head women's soccer coach, removing the interim title that he assumed December 29.
Stafford becomes the fourth head coach in the program's history, succeeding Tom Anagnost who last month was named head coach at the University of Miami (Fla.).
An assistant for the past two seasons under Anagnost, Stafford signed a three-year contract to take over a program that has won back-to-back Mid-American Conference regular season and tournament championships. The Chippewas finished 17-4-3 in 2009 and 16-5-1 in 2010, earning NCAA Tournament appearances in both seasons. Additionally, the program earned the highest team grade point average in the nation for the sixth consecutive season.
"Neil's head coaching experience, along with his knowledge and dedication to this program, made this an easy decision," said Director of Athletics Dave Heeke. "Continuity and consistency are two very important factors we look for in building a program that can sustain its success. We like to promote from within at CMU whenever the opportunity presents itself. Over the last two years, Neil has played a significant role in how high our soccer program has ascended, and he has all the qualifications we were looking for in a head coach."
"I know these are some serious shoes to fill," said Stafford. "It will take a lot of hard work to maintain the consistency of winning the MAC, out-performing the rest of the country in the classroom, and going to the NCAA Tournament, but that's where we want to stay. We have a good young team with great experience. Hopefully we can draw from that experience to put ourselves in a position to achieve our goals."
Prior to his time as an assistant at CMU, Stafford spent eight seasons as the head women's soccer coach at Assumption College, where he became the program's all-time winningest coach, earning a 72-61-15 record. He was named the 2004 Northeast-10 Conference Coach of the Year and guided the Greyhounds to the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Division II Tournaments, ranking as high as No. 3 in the nation in 2005.
Stafford earned his bachelor's degree from Southern New Hampshire in 1996 while majoring in sociology. After his collegiate career he served three seasons (1995-97) as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He also played professionally with the Boston Storm of the USL.
Stafford's contract includes a base salary of $60,000 plus performance bonuses. CMU has begun a national search for an assistant coach.