Feb. 20, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - University of Notre Dame men's soccer head coach Bobby Clark recently announced the promotion of BJ Craig to associate head coach. Craig has spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame has been quite successful with Craig on the sidelines. The Fighting Irish have posted a 59-30-15 record, including a 31-12-5 mark in the BIG EAST, along with four NCAA Championship appearances. Craig helped the Irish capture the 2012 BIG EAST Championship title and Notre Dame won the 2008 BIG EAST Blue Division crown in his first season on campus.
"Notre Dame is such a special place because of the people," Craig said. "(University Vice President and Director of Athletics) Jack Swarbrick and (men's soccer administrator) Beth Hunter put a tremendous amount of support and effort into our program - and athletics as a whole - and they do that because they care. We can't thank them enough for what they do.
"The key piece right now is that Bobby (Clark) received an extension on his contract. It is tremendous for Notre Dame to have Bobby continue to lead this program forward. There is no one better at developing people and we all benefit from working with him. I am thankful for his trust in our staff and the opportunity to keep learning from one of the best coaches in the game."
The 2012 campaign was one of the finest in program history as Notre Dame registered a 17-4-1 record, won the BIG EAST Championship and were the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Championship for the first time ever. The 17 wins were the most for the Irish since 1988.
The Irish have produced 23 all-BIG EAST selections in the last five seasons, including first-team picks Dillon Powers and Ryan Finley, the 2012 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year, this year. Craig also helped mentor Bright Dike, the conference's 2009 offensive player of the year.
Finley and Powers earned first team All-America honors this season and Finley was a finalist for the M.A.C Hermann Trophy. That duo became the latest in a long line of Notre Dame players selected into Major League Soccer (MLS). The Fighting Irish have had 16 MLS draft picks since Craig has been part of the program.
Among those draft selections were MLS All-Stars Matt Besler and Justin Morrow. Besler and Morrow recently became the first current or former Notre Dame players to earn a cap with the United States Senior National Team and Dike has earned multiple caps with the Nigerian Senior National Team.
"BJ has been a fantastic wealth of knowledge," Clark said. "He must be one of the most knowledgeable soccer minds in the collegiate game. He's always thinking about the game and thinking about different ways to play. He studies soccer and he has been a great help to me and to the program. This promotion is very, very well deserved."
Craig joined the Notre Dame program after being an assistant coach at the University of Louisville during the 2007 campaign. Prior to that, he had a four-year stint (2003-06) as head coach at Saint Francis University (Pa.). He led the Red Flash to their first two Northeast Conference (NEC) tournament appearances and also produced the program's first winning season in 2004 en route to being named the NEC Coach of the Year.
"BJ was a very successful head coach at Saint Francis," Clark said. "I've never looked at BJ as an assistant, he's always been a co-coach alongside me. Together with him and (assistant coach) Greg Dalby and (volunteer assistant coach) Vern Gingerich, who works with the goalkeepers, we must have the best staff in the country."
Craig joined the Saint Francis staff after serving as an assistant coach at Dartmouth College from 1998-2003. He helped guide the Big Green to an NCAA Championship berth in 2000 and the Ivy League title in 2002. Prior to his stint at Dartmouth, Craig was an assistant coach at his alma mater Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., from 1995-96.
Craig, a native of Westford, Mass., is a 1993 graduate of Gordon College with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He earned one varsity letter at the University of Massachusetts Lowell before transferring to Gordon College, where he lettered twice. Craig helped Gordon College to the Commonwealth Coast Conference championship in 1992. He earned a master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts Lowell in 1997.