WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University men's soccer coach Mike Coven has announced his retirement after 44 years on the sidelines of one of the most successful athletics programs in NCAA Division III history. Coven, who guided his team to the Final Four of the NCAA Division III Tournament this season and won a national championship with the Judges in 1976, will officially retire on Dec. 31, 2016.
Coven ranks sixth all-time in Division III men's soccer coaching wins and is 10th among all NCAA soccer coaches regardless of division. Only five NCAA men's soccer coaches have had longer tenures than Coven, and only two of those also served their entire careers at one school.
"Brandeis has been a special place for me," Coven said. "The support I've seen over the years – from the administration, from alumni and from the student-body – has made this place into a real soccer school. I will miss it tremendously."
Brandeis Director of Athletics Lynne Dempsey '93 praised Coven's contributions to Brandeis.
"I've worked with Coach Coven in so many different roles over the years," said Dempsey. "He's been a great coach, a great colleague, a great mentor and a great friend. I can't think of anyone who is as passionate about his job or about Brandeis University. This was such an amazing season and I know he is incredibly proud of the return trip to the Final Four."
Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Sheryl Sousa '90 also offered Coven her thanks for his decades of service to Brandeis.
"Coach Coven has been an integral part of the Brandeis community for more than four decades," said Sousa, who served as Brandeis director of athletics from 2003 through 2015. "There are generations of Brandeis alumni whose introduction to Brandeis, and their lasting commitment to the institution today, is because of Coach Coven. He has led a soccer program founded on a sense of family and leaves a legacy of excellence."
Coven led Brandeis to the postseason in 25 of his 44 seasons reaching 14 NCAA Division III tournaments and 11 ECAC Division III New England tournaments. In 1976, he won Brandeis's first-ever national championship in any sport. He also coached the 1984 runners-up, 1981 third-place squad and this year's team that returned to the Final Four for the first time in 32 years. His squad also captured ECAC crowns in 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2011.
Coven, who entered the 2016 season as the longest-tenured coach in NCAA Division III soccer, departs Brandeis with a career record of 526 wins, 266 defeats and 57 ties for a .653 winning percentage. The 2016 campaign was one of Coven's most successful. After four-straight seasons reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, the Judges overcame a five-match winless streak early in the year to finish the regular season with a 10-5-3 mark and earn an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament.
The Judges reached their fifth consecutive NCAA Division III Tournament Sweet 16 by defeating Western New England, 2-1 in overtime of the first round, and St. Joseph's (Maine), 3-0 in the second round. The Judges then advanced to the Elite Eight for the second time in five years by ousting defending national champions Amherst on penalties, 3-1, after a overtime 1-1 draw, before returning to the Final Four with a 4-2 victory over Rutgers-Newark.
After dropping their national semifinal match to Calvin College, 1-0, Brandeis ended the regular season ranked No. 4 in Division III, their highest finish since 1984, when they finished runner-up in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Coven was named the University Athletic Association (UAA) and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) New England Division III Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2015 when he led the Judges to the first two UAA titles in school history. He also earned UAA Coach of the Year in 2002. In his career, Coven coached 10 different student-athletes to All-America honors, winning 18 awards. He also coached two CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, four NSCAA Scholar All-Americans, while his teams earned six NSCAA Team Academic awards.
In addition to his soccer duties, Coven also spent time as the men's lacrosse coach for several years in the 1970s and was an instructor of physical education classes. Coven served as president of the New England Soccer Coaches Association and the New England Intercollegiate Soccer League.
A Brookline, Mass., native, Coven is a 1969 graduate of American International College. He came to Brandeis in 1972 after a stint as head coach at Newton South High School. He currently resides in Duxbury.