RICHMOND, Va. – University of Akron Assistant Dave
Giffard has been named head men's soccer coach at Virginia
Commonwealth University, Rams' Director of Athletics
Norwood Teague announced Wednesday.
It's been five years since VCU played in the NCAA Tournament, but Teague hopes this move will push the program closer to a return trip.
"Bringing Dave to VCU is a real coup for our soccer program," Teague said. "What he and Caleb [Porter] were able to do at Akron has been nothing short of spectacular, and I am excited to see him apply it here at VCU. The future is bright for VCU soccer."
Giffard spent the last four years under Porter at Akron, the 2009 National Runner-Up. The Zips reached the national title game this year before falling to Virginia on penalty kicks. UA finished a superb 23-1-1.
"First off, I would like to thank Norwood and his staff for giving me the opportunity to lead a program that has had so much success in the past and is full of potential for the future," Giffard said. "I am honored to join the VCU Athletics family and look forward to working with current and future student-athletes, alumni and fans to build VCU soccer into something very special.
"My goals for the program are simple. We need to build a solid foundation and a culture of excellence, coupled with the recruitment of talented and committed student-athletes that will allow us to compete at the highest levels of NCAA Division I Soccer. There will be very high standards in all aspects of the student-athlete experience, with the goal that each player will develop to reach his potential, and as a group we can accomplish the very best that we are capable of. This spring will be a great opportunity to get to work and lay that foundation for the future here at VCU."
Giffard has been outstanding on the recruiting trail with Akron, reeling in top-five recruiting classes every season, including the top class in the country in 2009. In all, the Zips recruited 10 NSCAA Youth All-Americans, and five players earned Parade All-Americans citations during their Akron careers.
"VCU is getting not only a good coach who will be extremely beneficial to the program's success soccer wise, but even more importantly, his quality as a person will benefit the mentoring of his student athletes academically and as people," Porter said. "Dave will hit the ground running and I expect his impact on the players and presence with the alumni and in the community to be felt immediately. "
Outside of recruiting, Giffard has been instrumental in the development of the Zips goalkeepers, including Evan Bush, who was a Freshman All-American and a three-time All-MAC First-Team honoree, and is now playing for the Cleveland City Stars of the USL. The tradition continued in 2009, when Zips' freshman keeper David Meves was named a Freshman All-American and Third Team Great Lakes All-Region after he led the nation in goals-against-average and shutout percentage.
"Coach [Giffard] is a top-notch guy, first and foremost," Bush said. "He cares strongly about the game of soccer and the players he coaches. His work ethic and drive during the time I was around him were major strengths. I think he is a great person to have lead the young men at VCU, not only on the field, but just as importantly, off the field."
Under Giffard's tutelage, Akron has led the nation in goals-against-average the past two years. In 2009, the Zips tied an NCAA record for consecutive victories in a single season with 23.
Thanks to his ability to build relationships in the community, Giffard aided a nearly 350-percent attendance boom at Akron. Last season, Akron's average attendance of 2,618 per game ranked among the nation's leaders.
Prior to Akron, Giffard spent one season as a volunteer assistant at Indiana, where the Hoosiers went 13-3-6 and earned the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Under his direction, IU goalkeeper Chris Munroe led the Big Ten in shutouts and goals-against average on the way to a First Team Academic All-America selection.
Before his tenure at Indiana, Giffard served as an assistant at the University of Alabama-Birmingham from 2000-04. The Blazers posted a 60-29-16 overall record over that span and earned a pair of NCAA Tournament bids, including a Sweet 16 run in 2001. UAB was also ranked among the top 10 in the nation during each of Giffard's five years.
"I think that VCU has hired a superb coach and a guy who has been successful at every stop in his coaching career," UAB Head Coach Mike Getman said. "More than just a coach, Dave is a terrific person that is an excellent recruiter and an outstanding builder of relationships, both with student-athletes and the surrounding community. I know that Dave will continue his history of success as he takes the reins of VCU soccer."
Since 2000 with UAB, Indiana and Akron, Giffard has had a hand in coaching and/or recruiting 30 players who have gone on to be drafted or play professional soccer, including last year's No. 1 overall pick in the MLS Draft, Steve Zakuani, and two members of this year's Generation Adidas class, Teal Bunbury and Blair Gavin.
"Coach Giffard has a terrific ability to relate to his players and is an very approachable guy, both on and off the soccer field," Zakuani said. "I spent a lot of time with him and he is a huge reason as to why I am where I am today, both in soccer and in life."
Giffard began his coaching career at his alma mater, MacMurray (Ill.) College, in 1998. From 1999-2000 he served as the assistant men's soccer coach at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., where he led the squad to a school-record 12 victories.
Giffard received his degree in physical education from MacMurray in 1999 and went on to earn a Master of Arts in Education from UAB in 2003. He holds a USSF "B" license, as well as an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma.