SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After leading the Santa Clara University men's soccer program to eight NCAA tournaments and three College Cup appearances in 11 seasons, Bronco men's soccer coach Mitch Murray is retiring from coaching college soccer to enter private business, SCU's director of athletics Cheryl L. Levick announced today.
"I've been coaching for 22 years and I feel that this is the perfect time to make a change in my life," said Murray, who is considering a position as director of soccer operations for the Sereno Soccer Club in Scottsdale/North Phoenix, Ariz. "I have had the opportunity to work with some really special student-athletes and form some positive relationships with people throughout the Santa Clara family.
"My wife, Nikki, and I have talked about relocating to Arizona for a number of years and this is the best time for us to make the change. Without a doubt, I am going to miss Santa Clara a great deal. I've had a great experience here and I think the program is in really great shape to be successful for years to come."
"Mitch has been extremely dedicated to Santa Clara University for 16 years and we are certainly going to miss him," said Levick. "He has guided teams to the highest levels of success and is rightfully considered one of the finest college soccer coaches in the country. We sincerely wish Mitch happiness in his future endeavors."
A 1977 graduate of San Francisco State, Murray began his association with Santa Clara as an assistant to then-head coach Steve Sampson in 1986. For the next five seasons, the duo led the Broncos to the program's first two West Coast Conference titles and the 1989 NCAA co-championship, the first-ever national title for Santa Clara. Murray was named the program's head coach when Sampson joined the United States National Team program in 1991.
In his first season, Murray was named the national coach of the year after leading the Broncos to a 20-1-2 record and the national championship game. That season, brothers Cameron and Matt Rast became the first of 10 Broncos to earn All-America honors under Murray's tutelage. Since 1991, five Broncos have been named WCC players of the year and 78 have earned all-WCC honors.
Murray is the winningest men's soccer coach in Santa Clara history with a 143-58-17 record since becoming the Broncos' head coach in 1991. He guided his 1991 and 1999 teams to the NCAA championship game and the 1998 squad to the national semifinals. In 11 seasons, Murray's squads have claimed 10 national rankings, five WCC titles and he was selected league coach of the year twice during his tenure.
In addition to his collegiate success, Murray served as the head coach of the U-18 U.S. National Team from 1996 through 1999 and served as a scout for the U.S. National Team during the 1998 World Cup.
"I really want to thank Steve Sampson for everything he's done for me personally and professionally. He brought me to Santa Clara as his assistant and was later a major reason I was considered for the head coaching job. He built the foundation for the current success of this program. I simply have managed his vision.
"I also want to thank Fr. Paul Locatelli for his passion and support of men's soccer and Santa Clara athletics. And, most of all, I want to thank all the players and staff whom I have had the pleasure to work with. They have all provided me with a wealth of memories."
Born in New York, N.Y., Murray lived in Mexico, Switzerland, Burma and Libya before settling in the Bay Area at age 12. He attended Fremont High School and DeAnza College prior to San Francisco State. He coached at Fremont and Buchser high schools before serving two tours of duty at Foothill College. He was also an assistant at San Diego State for two seasons prior to joining the Santa Clara staff in 1986.
On the heels of his announcement to retire from his head coaching duties at Santa Clara, former players share their thoughts on what Mitch Murray has meant to the Bronco Soccer program.
Cameron Rast - Former player and current Associate Head
"Mitch has essentially been here since the beginning of the program's rise to national prominence. He was instrumental in identifying and recruiting players as an assistant coach and eventually leading this program, starting in 1991, to where it stands today among the nation's elite. I don't think you can understate in any way what he has meant to the program. I think a lot of his records and a lot of his success speaks for itself. He is a tremendous coach from a player's standpoint, having played for him. He has a great mindset for the game and knowledge of how to lead teams to success. He has a great eye for talent in that he is always able to identify the underrated player and take good calculated risks in evaluating how they will be able to perform for the program. As a co-worker, he has been great. I have been working with Mitch for eight years and have had a couple of opportunities to move on to other programs, but it is because of Mitch that I have stayed. It is definitely an environment that I have enjoyed and continue to enjoy and will miss deeply."
Jeff Stewart - Former player now with the Colorado
"It's hard to believe that he is actually leaving. He has been there for so long and meant so much to the program that I know he will truly be missed. He was like a father away from home for the four years I was at Santa Clara. He's the reason I went there and he is the reason I am playing in the MLS today. He is a great coach and a great man."
Burke Ewers - A returning senior for the Broncos next
"Coach has always been an awesome guy on and off the field. He's been an amazing coach, leading us to the College Cup twice, an appearance in the finals against Indiana, another NCAA Tournament berth last year and the WCC Championship. So he is an amazing coach but he is an even better mentor. He has always been someone I can go in and talk to and I get kind of choked up just thinking about him leaving now. It will be tough to replace him.
Keith Burden - Finished his career in a Bronco uniform
"He made Santa Clara soccer what it is. It is a special type of play and not too many clubs out there can say that they have a special type of play, and Mitch has provided that for this school. Individually, he has been a tremendous asset to my soccer career. Bringing me here to Santa Clara and giving me a chance to play. He not only taught me a lot of things about soccer, but about life in general as well."
Scott McLain - A returning senior for the Broncos next
"Mitch has put so much effort into developing us as players and as a team. Everything you learned from the guy was beneficial to you as a player and as a person. We will definitely miss Coach both on and off the field. He has done so much for me personally in giving me a chance to play here and making me a better person that I will miss him greatly."