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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour has announced the appointment of Jeff Cook as the 12th head coach in the storied history of the men’s soccer program. Cook has 27 years of coaching experience and comes to Happy Valley after serving with the Philadelphia Union and Bethlehem Steel FC over the past four-plus years.
"We are thrilled to have Jeff Cook joining our family as the leader of the Penn State men’s soccer program," Barbour said. "Jeff has excelled at all levels during his more than 25 years of coaching and is clearly a great fit for Penn State. He’s familiar with our state and our region, holds student development and academic success as a priority, and has demonstrated that he knows how to succeed on the pitch. He’s a perfect fit for our promise of preparing students for a lifetime of impact. We are excited about the experience and leadership Jeff will bring to Penn State and look forward to this next chapter for our men’s soccer program."
“I am thrilled to accept this opportunity to become the next men's soccer coach at the Pennsylvania State University,” Cook said. “This program has been home to many outstanding players and coaches over the last 107 seasons, and I'm grateful to Sandy Barbour, Lynn Holleran and the entire search committee for placing their trust in me to build on this incredibly rich tradition. I'm very excited to lead the next era of men's soccer at Penn State and can't wait to get started.
“Penn State is regarded as one of this country's most iconic institutions for its combination of outstanding academics and athletics,” he added. “It's an honor for me to become a member of the Nittany Lion family. I look forward to meeting and working with the current student-athletes, my new colleagues across the athletic department, the passionate alumni, members of the University faculty and staff, as well as the members of the State College community.”
Seventeen Years as Division I Head Coach; MLS and USL Coaching and Player Development
Cook brings 17 years of Division I head coaching experience to the Jeffrey Field pitch, leading Dartmouth College a total of 12 years (2001-12), in addition to five years as head coach at the University of Cincinnati.
A native of Springfield, Mass., Cook left Dartmouth in April 2013 when he was recruited by the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) to assist in running their youth development program, with the goal of producing homegrown professional soccer players. In January 2016, Cook was promoted to assistant coach with the Union’s United Soccer League (USL) affiliate and development team, Bethlehem Steel FC, while continuing to serve as the head coach of the Under-19 Union Academy team.
As the first assistant coach with Bethlehem Steel FC, Cook has been responsible for match preparation, designing and executing training sessions, video analysis and coordinating player movement between the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, the USL squad and the Union first team. Cook has been instrumental in the development of the club’s first two “homegrown players” since the founding of the full-time academy program.
As the club’s U-19 head coach, Cook guided the squad to the 2016-17 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Atlantic Division title and a third place finish in the national standings. Cook previously was head coach of the club’s U-17 squad that finished second in the 2015-16 national standings and qualified for the Elite stage of the MLS Youth Cup that year.
Led Dartmouth to Five Ivy League Championships; Seven NCAA Appearances
Cook directed Dartmouth to five Ivy League Championships (2002, ’04, ’05, ’08, ’11) and seven NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the NCAA round of 16 in 2008 and 2010. The Big Green were among only 12 programs nationally to qualify for five consecutive NCAA Tournaments and earned No. 16 seeds in the national tournament in 2005 and 2008.
Cook led the coaching and development of 53 All-Ivy players, two All-Americans and a trio of Scholar-Athlete All-Americans at Dartmouth. He also directed the men’s soccer student-athletes to numerous academic achievements, including earning the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s Team Academic Achievement Award for five consecutive seasons, receiving a NCAA Academic Progress Rate public recognition award five consecutive seasons and seeing the Big Green lead all Division I programs one year with a 3.46 grade-point average.
From 1996-2000, Cook served as the head coach at Cincinnati. He guided the Bearcats to their first NCAA Tournament berth and was selected the Conference USA Coach of the Year. Cook also developed the program’s first All-American and Scholar-Athlete All-American.
A graduate of Bates College, Cook began his coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of Massachusetts. He then led Wheaton College as head coach from 1991-93, posting records of 13-6-1 and 12-6-2 his last two seasons and earning ECAC Tournament berths. Cook served as a Dartmouth assistant coach in 1994 and ‘95 before matriculating to Cincinnati as head coach.
Cook is married to Christina (Nelson) Cook, who holds a director position in the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Development and Alumni Relations. They have two sons, Liam, a student at the University of Pennsylvania; and Kieron, who attends Springside Chestnut Hill Academy.