Assistant Coach Steve Simmons Takes Head Position At Northern Illinois

April 15, 2003


Oregon State University men's soccer assistant coach Steve Simmons has accepted the position of head coach at Northern Illinois University, Beaver head coach Dana Taylor announced Tuesday.

Simmons will assume the reigns at NIU beginning Monday, April 21. He takes over the position formerly held by Willy Roy, whose contract was not renewed.

'Over the last two years, this program has grown immensely because of the hiring of our two assistants, and Steve has been a big part of that,' Taylor said. 'We will forever be grateful for what he has done for us and for his recruiting, demeanor, and tactics. We'll miss him.

'Steve has the blueprint for building a Division I soccer program,' Taylor added. 'I expect nothing less than for NIU to become a prominent team in the Mid-American Conference as well as a NCAA Tournament team in the next several years. He'll bring a lot of passion to the school; his teams will be organized, and extremely tough to play against.'

Simmons, who came to OSU from Division III Linfield College prior to the 2001 campaign, was an integral part of OSU's ascension from a program that went 5-12 in 2001 to winning a school-record 13 games in 2002 and earning its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

During his two-year tenure at OSU, Simmons worked primarily with the back line and goalkeeping units, which produced four All-Pacific-10 selections during that span. OSU's defense recorded six shutouts in 2002, just one off the school standard.

In 2002, Simmons, Taylor, and assistant Jesse Cormier combined to recruit a class ranked among the top 20 nationally. Three of those newcomers earned All-Pac-10 recognition after their first season.

'Dana Taylor is about as good as you can get as far as a mentor, coach and a friend,' Simmons said. 'That's a reflection not only of where Dana is from, but what (Athletic Director) Bob De Carolis has done and how this operation is run.

'I have the same feeling about the program at OSU as Dana did when he left Creighton,' Simmons said, referring to the fact that a year after Taylor's departure from Creighton to OSU, the Blue Jays advanced to the Final Four. 'That's a tribute to Dana, Jesse, and the student-athletes. I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happens here.'

Northern Illinois compiled a combined 8-25-2 record over the last two years. However, Roy's 141 career wins are the most for any coach in NIU history.

'This is a chance for me to get back in the saddle again as a head coach,' Simmons said. 'I've been a head coach longer than I've been an assistant, and that's always something that's in the back of your mind. The attitude at NIU is very similar to what it is at OSU. It is very progressive and aggressive.

'The job that I had here has got to be one of the top five assistant jobs in the country,' Simmons added. 'That is the number-one highlight. To see the program evolve - in the best conference in the country - from five wins in 2001 to being in the tournament the next year - what a journey.'

Prior to his arrival at OSU, Simmons was the head men's and women's coach at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., for five years. Simmons guided the Wildcat men's team to the 2000 Division III Final Four while posting a 21-1-1 record.

Simmons, a 1990 graduate of Concordia University, was the head coach at Division III Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash., before coaching at Linfield.

Simmons also has been an assistant at Gonzaga from 1994-95 and Concordia from 1990-94. He holds a United States Soccer Federation 'A' license as well as a National Soccer Coaches Association Premier Diploma.

A national search for a new assistant coach in underway.

'Already, my phone has been ringing off the hook,' Taylor said. 'This is a highly sought-after position, and the search is on. We will make an announcement in the near future.'

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