AZUSA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific men’s soccer head coach Phil Wolf announced his resignation Monday to accept a coaching position at NCAA Division I men’s soccer power Southern Methodist University, a member of Conference USA.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and my family, and it feels like a challenge I’m looking forward to at this particular time,” Wolf said. “It’s exciting because it’s a Top 10 program, and it’s an honor to be able to work there with that kind of team. At the same time, I’m also sad, because I’m a leaving another great program behind.”
Wolf, the 2007 NAIA Coach of the Year, guided Azusa Pacific to 120 wins over the past 8 seasons, and the eighth Azusa Pacific head coach departs with the program’s highest winning percentage at .772 (120-29-18). He led the Cougars to 2 of the program’s 3 20-win seasons and 3 straight NAIA title games that resulted in the school’s first-ever NAIA men’s soccer championship in 2007. Under his guidance, Azusa Pacific also claimed 4 Golden State Athletic Conference men’s soccer titles, and Wolf was named GSAC Coach of the Year 3 times (2001, 2007, 2008).
“Phil has done a tremendous job with our student-athletes, not only in terms of success on the field but also as a leader of young men,” said Azusa Pacific Athletics Director Bill Odell. “His impact on the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer program will leave a lasting imprint, and we wish him and his family the best as he takes this next step in his coaching career.”
In addition to orchestrating team success, Wolf was instrumental in the development of MLS draft selections Steven Lenhart and Jared Karkas. Over the past 8 years, 4 Cougars have been named GSAC Player of the Year, and in 2008, Eric Winblad became Azusa Pacific’s first NAIA Player of the Year. Azusa Pacific has had 21 NAIA All-Americans in 8 seasons under Wolf, including 5 first-team selections, as well as 35 All-GSAC and 27 GSAC Scholar-Athlete selections. During Wolf’s time, Azusa Pacific has won 4 consecutive NAIA Directors’ Cup trophies, awarded to the nation’s top athletics programs based on national tournament performances, and the Cougar Athletics program led the 2008-09 race following the final winter rankings released March 26.
“I just hope that the relationships that were built remain,” Wolf said. “I hope that the motto of ‘My God, My Team, Myself’ continues at Azusa Pacific with the new hire. For anybody that played for me, I’d hope that we’d always be Cougars and we’d always hold those relationships tight.”
Wolf will be an assistant on head coach Tim McClement’s staff at SMU, which has won a pair of conference titles and finished in the top 3 all 4 years of its Conference USA membership. Wolf and McClements are both graduates of NCAA Division III power Wheaton College, and McClements was a college teammate of Wolf’s older brother Dave Wolf, who is currently the men’s and women’s soccer head coach at GSAC rival Westmont College.
SMU ranks among the top 10 nationally in NCAA Division I Tournament appearances, earning 26 NCAA Tournament bids, including 14 straight from 1994 to 2007. SMU hosted the 2008 NCAA Men’s College Cup. SMU has been ranked as the top school in its conference for 10 of the past 11 years in the Directors’ Cup overall standings.