(Courtesy of Oakland University Athletic Media Relations)
ROCHESTER, Mich. - One of the soccer coaching icons in the state of Michigan, Gary Parsons, announced his retirement on Thursday after 28 seasons of outstanding service as the Golden Grizzlies' men's soccer head coach. Parsons became the 15th Division I coach to reach 350 career wins this season and moved into the top 10 at 363.
"The timing is right for me to leave," said Parsons, a 1973 Plymouth State graduate, former Panther soccer player and a 2006 inductee in the PSU Athletic Hall of Fame. "We have had two tremendous seasons over the last two years with two Summit League championships and two NCAA Tournament berths. When I brought Eric (Pogue) in I told him that I had a timeline of 7-10 years, and that time has come."
Parsons (left) led the Golden Grizzlies to 27 winning seasons, seven Summit League championships in 10 seasons, 17 NCAA Tournaments (four in DI), seven Final Fours and three national runner-up finishes in Division II. He is the all-time winningest coach in Summit League history and finished with a 38-15-3 league record (.703) in his 10 seasons.
"Gary is the pioneer of Oakland University soccer," said Director of Athletics Tracy Huth. "He brought the program to national recognition both at the Division I and II levels. Gary will be missed by everyone on this campus and we wish him well in his future endeavors."
A three-time Summit League Coach of the Year (2005, '06, '07), Parsons' teams received two at-large bids to the Division I Men's Soccer NCAA Tournament (2003, '08), another first in the league. OU took down Michigan State 2-1 in the tournament last season in East Lansing and fell to Ohio State this year in a shootout, 4-3.
"The thing I am most proud of is the fact that most of my former players are giving back to soccer in some capacity," said Parsons. "Sure the wins and championships are great accomplishments, but relationships formed over my time here outweigh any of those things. I didn't really realize that until a couple of years ago when my alumni would come around and we would talk."
This past season could be one of Parsons' finest. The Golden Grizzlies won a Div. I school record 14 games and posted another record with five consecutive shutouts. Their 0.54 goals against average broke a Summit League record and tied a school record, and the 12 shutouts posted was also a league record. The Grizzlies won the regular season Summit League title at 5-1 and were chosen to host the opening round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the Div. I era.
"I always envisioned walking away when the program was at its peak," said Parsons. "I didn't want to be one of those coaches that stayed on too long and did not put in the time or effort it takes to be successful at this level. I feel like this program is hitting on all cylinders and will continue to very successful in the future."
Oakland will begin a search for Parsons replacement immediately. An announcement should be made within the next two weeks.
"We feel like we already have the person to succeed Gary on staff," said Huth. "We are hoping to expedite the process of officially naming his successor."