Clarksville, Ark.-University of the Ozarks head men's soccer coach Dave De Hart is stepping down from his coaching position after a successful ten-year stint, it was announced Thursday by Athletic Director Jimmy Clark.
De Hart, who posted nine straight winning seasons, will pursue other professional business and soccer opportunities in his home state of California. De Hart ends his ten-year run with a 135-60-15 overall record at Ozarks, making him among the winningest active men’s soccer coaches in NCAA III.
“I’ve had great experiences here,” said De Hart, who originates from Modesto, Calif. “But it is time for me to go home. It is time for me to go back to where my family and friends are. I am going back to pursue professional business and soccer opportunities. The hardest thing is leaving the players. I’ve always had the unique privilege of counting these guys as my friends.”
De Hart led the Eagles to nine straight playoff appearances, with six of those teams playing in the ASC title match. His 2007 team won the American Southwest Conference Season Championship with a 11-2-0 conference mark, its best conference record ever. His 2003 team won the ASC title and advanced to the final 32 of the NCAA Tournament. In 2001, De Hart was named ASC East Division Coach of the Year after leading the Eagles to a school-best 18-3-1 record and a first-place finish in the ASC East Division during the regular season. The two-time ASC Coach of the Year accumulated a 78-32-8 conference record. He has coached 14 NSCAA All-Region players, 64 All-Conference players and a number of others on the Academic All-America Team. Five of his teams earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award.
“I’ve been fortunate to have some outstanding players to build a program,” said De Hart. “They built it, not me. It took a lot of commitment on their part to push something beyond the boundaries. I am proud of what the program has accomplished, but I am even more proud of the people that made those accomplishments. I appreciate the respect those on campus have given me and the team. Dr. Niece and all of the administration have been nothing but respectful and supportive of me. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I leave with great feelings and admiration for the University of the Ozarks.”
During his time at Ozarks, De Hart served as the Assistant Athletic Director and was later promoted to Athletic Director, where he spent four years overseeing the athletic department.
“Dave De Hart is one the best coaches and professionals I have been honored to work with,” said U of O President Dr. Rick Niece. “He built a remarkable soccer program at Ozarks, and the program’s success is a tribute to him and his high standards. I appreciate everything he has done at Ozarks, and I know I speak for all of our current and former players, as well as the campus community, when I thank him for building a program we are all proud of.”
Clark said De Hart is a coach that will be difficult to replace.
“Coach De Hart is a great coach and we will definitely miss him,” said Clark. “It will be tough to replace him. He has one of the top programs in the ASC year in and year out. His teams always compete for a conference championship. He does a great job of getting the most out of his players. His teams have performed in the classroom, too. We appreciate all of the hard work he has put forth here.”
De Hart has brought in a number of student-athletes who have gone on to successful careers in a variety of professions. Aaron Coats, a 2002 graduate and an All-Conference player under De Hart, feels his former coach built the program to what it is today.
“Dave inherited a young program and quickly transformed it into a strong and respected program,” said Coats, who now lives in Washington DC. “He had the right vision and worked hard to build the program where it is today. He brought in quality people, not just quality athletes. He is a good mentor for his players both on and off the field. He is a good person whom I consider a friend. He has made the university an even stronger entity.”
A search will begin immediately for his successor.