USF men’s soccer coach John Hackworth resigned Wednesday to accept an assistant coach position with the Under-17 national team. Hackworth assumes his new duties at the beginning of June.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision to leave USF and the men’s soccer program,” Hackworth said. “But it’s too good of an opportunity to turn down.”
Hackworth had worked with the U-17 team in tournaments in Brazil and France during March on a part-time basis, but his new job is a full-time position.
“It’s a position that doesn’t come around that often,” said USF assistant coach Jim Felix. “He’s worked hard to get to that position in his life.”
Hackworth’s duties in Brazil and France included scouting the opposing teams’ players.
According to Felix, Hackworth had received an offer during the time he was working with the Under-17 team and had been in negotiations for the past few weeks.
Hackworth met with the USF team and administration Wednesday to tell them of his plans.
“I know that it was not an easy decision for him by any stretch of the imagination, and it was very tough for him to leave the guys,” Felix said.
In four seasons, Hackworth compiled a 47-32-2 record, including the Conference USA regular season and tournament crowns in 1998, the year he won the C-USA Coach of the Year award after leading the Bulls out of a 0-5-2 start. His team made NCAA appearances that year and in 2001.
Last season, the Bulls finished 15-7, losing 1-0 in triple overtime to Penn State in the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Bulls started the season 8-0 and climbed to a No. 8 national ranking, the highest in school history.
“John has done an outstanding job with our program … when you do outstanding jobs, you draw attention within the industry, and that’s what he’s done,” said Athletics Director Lee Roy Selmon.
Selmon said he and his staff will look internally and externally for Hackworth’s replacement. Senior Associate Athletics Director Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy said the presence of Felix and fellow assistant coach Mike Duncan should make for a smooth transition.
“I think because we have consistency with our assistant coaches that we’ll have a smooth transition,” said Sparks-McGlinchy, who is in charge of the men’s soccer program.
“We’ll determine what we’re going to do about a search probably in the next week or so.”
Freshman defender Jared Vock said Wednesday’s meeting was emotional.
“It came as a shock,” Vock said. “I was only around him for one year. The guys who were around three years, I guess it was (even) harder on them.”
Vock was one of many highly touted high school players who Hackworth attracted to USF, a list that also includes goalkeeper Troy Perkins and incoming forwards Hunter West and Brian Gail.”He was an honest guy when he was recruiting me … that’s probably what I liked about him the most,” Vock said.
Hackworth travels to Northern Ireland with the Bradenton-based U-17 team Monday for the Ballymena International Tournament May 1-7.
“We have worked very well together,” Sparks-McGlinchy said. “I have a great deal of respect for John as a coach and as a leader of the team. They have really brought up their academics, and he has been very successful both in Conference USA, which is one of the strongest soccer leagues in the nation, and also as far as going to the NCAAs.
“I think he’s done a great job with the program.”