Texas A&M University-Commerce announces contract for head soccer coach Neil Piper
COMMERCE – Texas A&M University-Commerce Director of Athletics Tim McMurray has announced a multi-year contract for head soccer coach Neil Piper, effective immediately.
The longest tenured head coach on the A&M-Commerce staff, Piper has led the Lions since the 1998 season and has compiled an overall record of 226-123-33. He has led the Lions to Lone Star Conference titles in six different seasons (regular season champions in 1999, 2003, 2014 and 2016 and tournament champions in 1999, 2004, 2014 and 2015).
“When we talk about ‘Best in Class,’ Neil Piper is at the front of that class,” McMurray said. “His dedication to our institution and our soccer program is unmatched. Frankly, this is overdue, as it is an honor to work with him, our talented young ladies, and (Senior Associate AD) Judy Sackfield to continue building on Lion Soccer’s rich tradition. Whether student-athlete skill development on the field, success in the classroom, service in the community, or engaging our former student-athletes to return to campus, Neil checks all boxes successfully.”
Piper has also guided the A&M-Commerce soccer program to national prominence. The Lions have made eight NCAA Division II Tournament appearances under his direction – 1999, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The Lions advanced to the Elite Eight in 1999 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2008, 2014 and 2016. The team finished ranked 15th in the nation at the end of the 2016 season.
“I can’t think of another place I would rather be,” Piper said. “I’ve coached here for 20 years, and I get just as excited to come to work now as I did back then. Tim McMurray has put together a tremendous coaching staff and administration, and this athletics program has never been in a better situation.”
A two-time LSC Coach of the Year, Piper has coached 23 players who have earned a combined 38 First Team All-LSC honors, including LSC Offensive Players of the Year Erin de Wolfe (2003 and 2005), Megan Lasley (2009), Savannah Grasser (2014) and Vicky Back (2016). Back was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2016 and Grasser was named Forward of the Year in 2016.
Also, under Piper, 23 players have been named All-Region with five garnering All-American honors (Tiffany Adams in 2004, Taylor Jordan and Megan Lasley in 2008, Savannah Grasser in 2014 and 2016, and Vicky Back in 2015 and 2016). In 2016, Back became the first player in A&M-Commerce history to be named a First Team All-American. She was named First Team All-American by Hero Sports, D2CCA, and NSCAA. Also, in 2016 Back and Grasser were the first two student-athletes in program history to be named NSCAA Scholar All-Americans.
“Coach Piper has directed the women’s soccer program positively in all facets,” said Senior Associate Athletics Director for Student-Athlete Success and Senior Woman Administrator Judy Sackfield. “His program continually sets the standard to match with their accomplishments on the soccer field, but equally important are the achievements in the classroom. I am thrilled we can offer Coach Piper this contract, as he continues to set the bar higher and higher for his program”.
Piper’s 226 career victories rank him in the top 20 of active Division II head coaches for total wins while his .635 winning percentage also ranks among the nation’s top 30 active coaches with five years or more of Division II coaching experience. He has led the Lions to at least ten victories in 13 seasons and has posted a winning record in 16 of his 19 seasons on the A&M-Commerce sideline.
“I would like to thank President Keck, Tim McMurray, and Judy Sackfield for allowing me the opportunity to continue to be a part of this great university. I would also like to thank my former student-athletes who have given so much to this team and contributed to the success of the soccer program,” Piper added.
Piper joined the A&M-Commerce soccer coaching staff as an assistant in 1997 under Mike Munch before taking over the reins of the program one year later. A 1996 graduate of Wichita State University, with a bachelor’s degree in education, Piper went on to complete his master’s degree in Sports Administration in 1998 from WSU.
Before transferring to WSU, Piper attended Penn State University and Friends University, playing soccer at both institutions. He was a member of the 1993 Penn State team, which became the first Nittany Lions athletic team to capture a Big Ten title. He also was named to the 1993 All-Big Ten First Team.
During his stay at WSU, Piper was sports editor of the Wichita State Sunflower and was a correspondent for the Wichita Eagle.
Born in Portsmouth, England, Piper is the son of Norman (former soccer professional in England and U.S.) and Cheryl Piper. He came to the United States in 1981 and became a U.S. citizen.
He is married to the former Anne Cillessen, and they have two children, Cole and Lauren.