Dec. 27, 2011
NORMAN, Okla. -- Matt Potter, who has taken Washington State to the NCAA tournament in three of the last four years, has been named the fourth head coach in the history of the University of Oklahoma soccer program. Potter’s hiring was announced Tuesday by OU VP/Athletics Director Joe Castiglione.
“Matt Potter has led Washington State’s program to some of its greatest success, is highly regarded in collegiate soccer and is a long time coach in the Olympic development programs,” said Castiglione. “We are excited to have him join the Sooner family and believe he’ll be an outstanding leader for our current and future student athletes. We’ve made a strong commitment to our soccer program, including facility upgrades, and Matt is anxious to capitalize on that commitment.
“Matt also has demonstrated the ability to build support for his program and to increase community interest. We appreciate the emphasis he places on outreach and feel that the many soccer enthusiasts in our area will respond.”
Throughout the past nine seasons, Potter established the Cougars’ program into one of the Pac-12’s elite with a school record 88 wins (88-69-26 overall) at the helm, including five double-digit win seasons and three appearances in the NCAA tournament. The Cougars advanced into the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2009. Prior to his arrival, Washington State advanced to three NCAA tournaments since the program’s inception in 1989.
“I am thankful to President Boren and Mr. Castiglione for this exciting opportunity,” said Potter. “From my initial conversation with Dr. Martin (Dr. Brandon Martin, Sport Administrator) and throughout my visit, I could sense the passion, care and true family atmosphere at OU. The energy, the sense of tradition, and the support both on and off the field makes this a great place to be. The programs at this great university speaks of excellence and I appreciate the opportunity to work alongside coaches who are the best at what they do. Mr. Castiglione has an impressive vision for the soccer program and the athletic department and I look forward to being part of this positive environment.”
Potter replaces Nicole Nelson, who resigned in November after four seasons. Potter inherits a Sooner team that was 7-13 in 2011 and returns 10 starters.
“I believe in the potential of the players, the soccer program and the opportunity to build on the work of the previous staff,” added Potter. “As a coach, I look forward to being in a position to compete both on and off the field with the resources, support and people that care in the growth of student athletes. This is something that is clear at the University of Oklahoma.”
While coaching 30 all-conference selections and seven players that have taken part of national team camps or competitions at Washington State, the program’s success in the classroom did not go unnoticed during Potter’s tenure. He has helped mentor 103 student-athletes that have earned academic all-conference accolades and Washington State received the NSCAA Team Academic Award in 2011, marking the seventh time the program earned the honor under Potter.
“I want to express my sincere gratitude to my former athletic director, Jim Sterk, and his staff at Washington State,” said Potter. “I will be forever grateful for the coaching opportunity and faith he showed in me. Also, I would not be here if it were not for all the players and staff who I have had the privilege of working with. I will miss the people behind the scenes and the town of Pullman, which we called ‘home’ for almost nine years. I will always cherish the memories.”
Potter took over the helm of the Cougars in July of 2003, just a few months after being named an assistant in February. Potter was 6-11-2 in his first season after taking over for Dan Tobias, who took the head coaching job at the University of Arizona in 2003. Following his debut season, Potter’s Cougar teams rattled off six straight winning seasons and the 2006 squad tied a program record with 10 shutouts.
In the past five seasons on the field, Washington State has enjoyed four campaigns with double-digit wins and a combined 54-37-14 record. The Cougars were also ranked in the top 25 polls in four of those seasons, including a school record eight straight weeks in 2009.
Most recently, Washington State returned to the big dance in 2011 and advanced to the second round for the second time in the last three years. The Cougars posted a 12-7-4 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the Pac-12 with a program best six wins in conference play (6-3-2 mark). Four Cougars earned all-conference honors and two were named to the coaches’ association all-region team.
The Cougars tied a program record for wins with 14 in 2009 after topping Villanova in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It marked the first back-to-back appearances in the postseason for Washington State. The 2009 club tied WSU’s highest finish in the Pac-10 standings (third) with a 5-2-2 mark, finished the year ranked No. 18 in the nation, and set or tied 22 school records in the process.
In 2008, Potter and the Cougars’ appearance in the NCAA tournament marked the fourth in program in history and first since 2002.
Prior to his stint in Pullman, Wa., Potter was the head coach for the women’s team at Scottsdale Community College. In his only season with the Artichokes, he led Scottsdale to the 2002 ACCAC playoffs with a 9-7-1 record.
He spent eight years with the Sereno Soccer Club in Arizona, working as a head coach and trainer. Potter led the ‘88 girls team to a Region IV second place finish, three third place finishes and four Arizona state titles. That squad and the ‘84 girls team were consistently ranked as one of the top 10 teams in Region IV. Potter’s ‘84 team won seven consecutive state titles and overall, he placed nine players on the Region IV team and three advanced to the youth national team pool.
He graduated from West London College of Brunel University in 1992 with an honors degree in physical education and religious, social and moral education. In 1991, he helped lead West London to the National British College title. Potter was also involved with the English national team, representing the country at the U-19 international level. He rose to the top of the game and played professionally for Watford F.C. as a central midfielder. He also worked as a community director with the Brentford Football Club in London.
Originally from Mere, England, Potter is married to Olga and has one daughter, Cassidy, and three stepdaughters Andrea, Marissa and Valerie.
Potter holds a USSF “A” license, a NSCAA Premier License and is currently the Region IV Olympic Development Program (ODP) head coach for the girls ‘88 age group. He has served on the regional staff since 1998 and also was give a preliminary and Teaching Award from the English Football Association.