Current Date: Sun, 09 Mar 2014 05:21:36 -0400
If North Carolina men’s soccer coach Elmar Bolowich returns to his fourth consecutive College Cup next season, he won’t be taking the Tar Heels with him.
After 22 years at the helm in Chapel Hill, the winningest men’s soccer coach in UNC history resigned Wednesday in order to become the head coach at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb.
“I am very honored and excited to formally accept the head coaching position for the men’s soccer team at Creighton University,” Bolowich said in a press release. “(Creighton Athletic Director) Bruce Rasmussen has made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, as he is willing and able to provide the resources to make Creighton soccer a national power.”
As a result, the University has named the program’s top assistant, Carlos Somoano, head coach on an interim basis. Team spokesperson Dave Schmidt said the athletic department will conduct a hiring search for the position and that Somoano will be considered as a candidate.
The news of Bolowich’s departure came as a surprise to Somoano, who said he did not know Bolowich had been thinking about leaving. Bolowich visited Creighton this past weekend and told his team he was leaving Wednesday afternoon.
“It was a total surprise,” said Eddie Ababio, who played for Bolowich from 2006-10. “Three Final Four appearances, we were very close to the top right now, so it was a total shock to hear about it.”
Bolowich takes over a Jays team that won the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to SMU in PKs.
Creighton does not have a football program and boasts a 6,000-seat state-of-the-art soccer facility in Morrison Stadium. The Jays were eighth in the nation in attendance this season with an average of 2,277 spectators per home game, about 600 more than UNC averaged. Though Creighton Associate Director of Sports Information Rob Simms said he did not know how much Bolowich would be paid, his prior salary at UNC was $91,052.
“I don’t think it was a salary thing at all,” Simms said. “Men’s soccer is our number one sport in the fall and it’s not behind football or even women’s soccer as it might be the case at your place. It’s just something where the community really does rally around.”
Bolowich came to UNC as an assistant to Anson Dorrance in 1986 and became head coach in 1989. Since then, Bolowich has compiled a record of 280-144-40 and guided the Tar Heels to 15 NCAA Tournament berths and the 2001 national championship.
Bolowich goes out after a banner year in which the Tar Heels won the ACC regular-season championship for the first time in school history and made it to the NCAA semifinals before falling to Louisville 2-1 on a last-minute goal. Bolowich was named ACC Coach of the Year, the second time in his career he has won the award.
“He’s definitely a player’s coach and he has a lot of confidence in his players,” said Jalil Anibaba, who played his senior season at UNC after transferring from Santa Clara. “He definitely believes in each and every one of those players. It allows all of his players to play at their utmost potential.”
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