SANTA CLARA, Calif. – On a big day for Santa Clara Athletics, it was announced women's soccer head coach Jerry Smith had his contract extended by seven years. Smith, who will be in his 28th season leading the Broncos in 2014, has built Santa Clara into a national presence. His success culminated with the 2001 national championship. Smith's Broncos have advanced to 10 Final Fours and won 10 West Coast Conference titles.
Below are quotes from Smith to members of the media on the day of the announcement.
Jerry Smith's Opening Statement to Media Wednesday
My family and I are very excited about this new contract and new opportunity for us. It's been a rough couple of weeks for us contemplating some other opportunities but all along we were Broncos and now we're Broncos for life. We're very excited about some of the changes that are going to be made to the athletic department and to the women's soccer program.
I am also very excited about this new opportunity to start the Jerry Smith Coaching for Life Academy. I've been here 27 years and this was a great decision for our family. When I came board I had no scholarship money and it wasn't well supported. To be in a position now where we have national recognition and know there will be more support going forward made my decision much easier. It's a rare opportunity to stay at one place so long. I remember coming back from the Michael Jordan Golf Classic and sitting next to legendary coach Dean Smith on the plane. I asked him about his time at North Carolina and if he regretted never moving on. He told me about how he still has an office on campus and how being there for so long brings so much value to him and his family. At 53 I'm not going to have other chances to look at other opportunities and now I don't have to.
On how college soccer changed in 27 years.
"When I started in 1987 we had what was called a National Collegiate Division, and that was Division I and II together. There were 72 teams in the country that were, and half were Division I and half were Division II. My opening salary was $2,400 for the year and I had no scholarship money. Now there are over 330 Division I women's soccer teams and so many of those teams are well supported by their athletic departments, fully funded with 14 scholarships, and have a full time group of staff. There's been a major commitment because of Title IX, and other reasons, to the women's side of athletics. Women's soccer is one of the sports that a lot of the universities, particularly universities with a lot of resources, decided that they really wanted to go after. Part of that reason is that studies would say that girls' soccer is the most popular sport in the United States for girls. There's been a tremendous revolution there and not everything that comes out of that is good by the way.
For example, in the good old days, we recruited seniors in high school and brought them on official visits. Now we're recruiting freshmen and sophomores and I don't think that's a healthy thing. I wish we could figure out how to change that trend. There was an article in The New York Times a week or two ago that really touched upon that and it was titled something like, "I've Made My Verbal Commitment and Now I'm Going to Start High School". Women's soccer has one of the highest transfer rates in the NCAA. None of us are proud of that and there's nothing about that that's positive.
US Soccer has put a tremendous amount of resources lately into the development of girls' and women's soccer. I was in a meeting in Philadelphia a few weeks ago with Sunil Gulati, president of US Soccer, and many key people in the girls' and women's side including college coaches. We were talking about these additional resources and how to best use them for real development of student-athletes in our sport. It seems like we've come so far from where I started it's almost hard to think about."
On what he wants to accomplish during the life of the contract.
"There are a few things I'd really like to do. Winning one or more national championships will be a goal for us over the next 10 years. We also want to have regular appearances in the College Cup. We've been in the College Cup 10 times and we want to be in the College Cup on a regular basis. In order to do those things, you have to play a certain level of soccer so rather than focus on the championships or Final Four appearances, we really have to have all the tools to train our players.
You also have to be able to recruit wonderful student-athletes and you have to be able to recruit them nationally. I'm looking forward to those opportunities and Santa Clara's going to allow our program to do some of those things to a higher degree than what they were doing.
The thing that I've always been excited about as a coach is my responsibility in teaching life skills and leadership to young people. For 20 years people have asked me what I do I don't think I've ever said soccer coach out of the gate in that conversation. I say I teach life skills to young people. Often times we get around to, "Oh, you're a soccer coach," and I think one of the things I want to do with the Jerry Smith Coaching for Life Academy is to shed light on what coaches really do. Only 10-15% percent of what we do is 'x's and 'o's and the rest of it falls into a category of counseling or mentoring or parenting or developing life skills for young people. We have to set them on a path that is going to ensure success and happiness after college, and that's not about sports.
I'm thrilled that Santa Clara University is going to afford me a platform to emphasize that part of what I do and to emphasize that as being a key component to all coaches in all sports. I will continue to be as invested in that area with my own student athletes as I have ever been, but now I have a platform to really grow that part of what we do outside of our team.
I also looked at this this as moment in time where some decisions had to be made about the role of athletics here at Santa Clara University. The timing of this coincided with what's called the Blue Ribbon Committee that wrote a report about athletics at Santa Clara University. I have to think that some of the decisions that have been made here in the last couple of weeks are related to what we've been doing in women's soccer and are tied to a greater plan for athletics and, and how athletics is viewed here at Santa Clara University. To be a part of this spark that may change something for our athletic department in addition to what we're doing in women's soccer is certainly exciting."