The Central Michigan women’s soccer program is looking for a new head coach for the third time in three years.
Head coach Neil Stafford will be leaving Central Michigan University to accept a position as the head coach for Cincinnati’s program.
A news release on gobearcats.com posted Monday announced Stafford’s move.
Stafford said he was offered the job last week.
“I think being offered the chance to build my own program from the ground up seemed too good to be true, and having the opportunity in a vibrant city like Cincinnati was something I couldn’t pass up,” Stafford said. “Personally and professionally, it’s the right time to make this move and stamp my name on a program completely.”
Stafford will officially begin his new position in mid-December. His contract is for five years, though Stafford would not disclose the salary figures.
“It’s a fantastic contract with a very good pay grade,” he said. “I’m very happy with it and the security it provides.”
Stafford said CMU Athletics gave Cincinnati permission to pursue him for the job, and he has not applied to any other jobs since coming to CMU.
“It was purely on interest in me and I was incredibly flattered,” Stafford said. “(Athletics Director) Dave Heeke gave them the go-ahead and that’s what I love about the staff here; they love to give employees the opportunity to grow.”
Junior midfielder Kaely Schlosser said Stafford broke the news to the team in person over the weekend.
“He told us he had accepted a job at Cincinnati, and we were a little shocked,” Schlosser said. “Obviously he’s been a good coach, but now we’re getting excited, looking forward to the new season and getting to know whoever is our next coach.”
Assistant coach Ian Carry has been assigned the interim head coach role for CMU as the athletics department conducts a national search for the permanent replacement.
Stafford has been a part of the Chippewas coaching staff since 2009 when he arrived as the assistant coach.
Before coming to CMU, Stafford was the head coach for Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., where he was the all-time winningest coach.
When Tom Anagnost resigned as head coach from CMU in December 2010 to accept the vacant coaching position at the University of Miami, Stafford was named interim head coach and two weeks later was named head coach.
Stafford departs after two successful seasons as head coach, leading CMU to a 15-7-1 record in 2012, earning a Mid-American Conference West Division regular season title and the MAC’s first at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
“He’s helped us become more creative, I guess,” Schlosser said. “Playing under Neil has taught me not to always do things like a robot. He’s brought a lot to the team and helped a lot. You can definitely tell our playing has changed.”
In 2011, he guided the Chippewas to a 15-3-3 overall record, and mentored a defense that allowed the fourth-lowest goals per game average in NCAA Division I.
“I’m taking with me all the relationships I’ve had with the coaches, players and everybody I’ve worked with here,” Stafford said. “It’s been a really positive experience and I’m indebted to the this program, coaches and players for helping me be able to make the jump to the Big East.”