Jan. 7, 2010
Courtesy of UNC Greensboro Athletics
GREENSBORO, N.C. – UNC Greensboro men’s soccer coach Michael Parker, the winningest active coach in Division I men’s soccer, announced his retirement Wednesday effective June 30 of this year.
Parker, 63, has led teams to six national titles, including three at UNCG. Parker’s six national titles — five in Division III and one in Division II — rank him tied for first among active men’s collegiate coaches. He is second all-time to the late Bob Guelker, who won seven championships in 29 years. In 1993, Parker became the first men’s soccer coach in NCAA history to lead a team to the NCAA Tournament in all three divisions.
“It has been quite a ride,” said Parker. “What an opportunity to come to Greensboro 26 years ago. I never could have thought it would have been like this. We’ve had wonderful success during that time at a variety of levels. So many players have gone on to great careers both in and out of the sport. It is so hard to just sum it all up.”
In 34 seasons as a head coach, Parker compiled a mark of 494-191-33, appearing in the NCAA Tournament 21 times. During 26 seasons as the coach at UNCG, Parker was 382-164-26. He led the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament 15 times in his 26 seasons, including eight in the program’s Division I era. Most recently, Parker led the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 16 in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. In 2004, the program spent four consecutive weeks as the consensus No. 1-ranked team in the nation. The program was unbeaten in its first 17 matches that season on its way to a 19-3-1 mark.
“Coach Parker has been the cornerstone of the UNCG men’s soccer program,” said director of athletics Kim Record. “We are fortunate that over the years, he continued to build on the foundation set by Mike Berticelli and formed a program with outstanding and talented student-athletes as well as knowledgeable and committed assistant coaches. He laid a foundation of success that allows us to move forward – continuing the great tradition of Spartan soccer.”
Parker’s teams finished with winning records in 32 of his 34 seasons – with one of those exceptions being a campaign that still resulted in an NCAA Tournament Round of 16 appearance. He leaves coaching ranked No. 10 all-time among all men’s soccer coaches in wins (494) and sixth among active coaches in all divisions. He has the most wins of any active coach in Division I and is in the Top 10 in winning percentage at .711. That winning percentage also puts him in the Top 25 all-time in Division I history.
Twenty-six years ago, Parker took over for the highly-successful Berticelli, who was headed to Old Dominion. Berticelli was leaving to Parker a program that had won back-to-back national titles in 1982 and 1983 at the Division III level. Parker’s first squad in 1984 went 17-2-2, earning a No. 1 national ranking in the Division III polls and a spot in the NCAA Tournament’s quarterfinal round. The following year, Parker led the Spartans to their first of three consecutive Division III national championships with a 5-0 pounding of Washington University (Mo.) in the finals to cap off a 20-5-0 campaign. Parker was named the NSCAA’s Division III National Coach of the Year that season.
When he led the Spartans to national titles in 1986 and 1987, he became the first coach to win three consecutive NCAA men’s soccer national championships on any level. In their gradual climb to Division I status, the Spartans were the NCAA Division II national runners-up in 1989 and Parker was named Division II National Coach of the Year by the NSCAA.
For all of his accolades at UNCG, Parker was inducted into the UNCG Athletics Hall of Fame in September 2005, making him the first male coach to be inducted while still active. Additionally, in honor of all of his success at UNCG and contribution to the sport, he was inducted into the Guilford County Hall of Fame in September 2007.
During Parker’s tenure, UNCG won 10 conference titles, including six during its Division I era. Parker led UNCG to SoCon titles in 1997, 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In fact, UNCG has the best winning percentage in Southern Conference action amongst member schools, going 70-29-6 since joining the league in 1997.
Three of Parker’s national titles came as the head coach at Lock Haven, where his teams won back-to-back Division III championships in 1977 and 1978 and a Division II championship in 1980. His success with the 1980 team – at 21-0-0, the only unbeaten, untied team in the country – earned him NIKE/Soccer America Coach of the Year honors.
In addition to his success at the collegiate level, Parker has also achieved at the professional level as coach of the USISL Greensboro Dynamo. He coached the Dynamo from 1993-95 and won back-to-back USISL national championships.
Parker coached 11 All-Americans, including Siggi Eyjolfsson, UNCG’s first three-time All-American, and UNCG star Randi Patterson, whose All-American status led him to a U.S. National Team U-20 camp invite. Patterson and teammate Scott Jones were the school’s first-ever Hermann Award candidates in 2005. In the last few years, four of Parker’s products have played in MLS – Patterson, Jones, Rusty Pierce and Alejandro Moreno. Eyjolfsson now serves as the head coach the Icelandic women’s soccer national team.
Parker has also coached four Academic All-Americans – Eyjolfsson, Mark Fulk, Cliff Patterson and Darren McDonough.
A native of Bradford, England, Parker was a graduate assistant coach at North Carolina in 1971 before moving to Lock Haven as an assistant in 1972. After four years as an assistant, Parker became the head coach at Lock Haven in 1976.
He earned a bachelor of science degree from Madeley College in Staffordshire, England, in 1968 and a master of education degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 1971.