Fresh off a runner-up finish at the College Cup and just two years removed from leading the Charlotte men’s soccer team to the program’s first NCAA appearance—a turnaround engineered in just five short years—coach Jeremy Gunn was poised to turn the 49ers into perennial NCAA contenders.
But when Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby came knocking, looking to find a replacement for Bret Simon, who stepped down in November after 11 years as head of the Stanford program, Gunn couldn’t say no.
In the 40-year-old Gunn, Bowlsby hired a veteran coach with plenty of wins and postseason success on his resume, although he does not have much experience.
“Jeremy Gunn has a proven track record of winning and developing student-athletes and programs everywhere he has coached,” Bowlsby said. “We are very excited to welcome Jeremy Gunn as our new men’s soccer coach. His teams are known to be extremely well-organized, determined, hard-working and well-coached.”
And conversely, the allure of coaching on the Farm, despite the Cardinal’s spate of up-and-down years since the team’s last sustained run of postseason success in the early 2000s, was ultimately too much for Gunn to pass up—Charlotte reportedly made several attempts to extend Gunn’s contract and retain the English national.
“I am truly honored to accept the position as the new head men’s soccer coach at Stanford University,” Gunn said. “I am excited to begin a new era of Stanford men’s soccer and am thrilled to be given the opportunity to become a part of one of the most prestigious universities in the world.”
Growing up in North Yorkshire, England, Gunn was outstanding at both cricket and soccer. A member of England’s U-17 national team in cricket, he was also a youth player at Gromsby Town F.C. and Scunthorpe United F.C. before coming to the United States to play soccer for Cal State Bakersfield—he went on to become a first team All-American for the Roadrunners.
After graduating from Bakersfield, Gunn began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater while continuing to play soccer professionally in the United States—he spent several years with the Chico Rooks Pro Soccer Club in Chico, Calif. and the North Bay Breakers of Rohnert Park, Calif. before playing in the United Soccer League for Nashville and later Charleston.
He served on both the men’s and women’s coaching staffs during his seven-year stint at Bakersfield, helping the Roadrunners to the 1997 NCAA Division II national championship and an appearance in the 1995 national semifinal.
The success propelled him to accept his first head coaching job with Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. There he built a D-II juggernaut, winning the Rocky Mountain Conference five times and playing in three NCAA Championships in eight years with the Skyhawks. In eight seasons, Gunn won an average of 15 games each year, going 22-0-1 en route to the 2005 NCAA championship.
He picked up right where he left off after accepting the job at Charlotte. During the five seasons he spent with the 49ers, Gunn compiled a 64-26-14 record, including a 5-2 mark in the NCAA Tournament—his teams also won a pair Atlantic-10 conference titles in 2010 and 2011.
Bowlsby hopes Gunn can bring a spark to the Stanford program, which has made the NCAA Tournament just one time in the past nine seasons after three College Cup appearances in five years from 1998-2002.
“Gunn is passionate about teaching and developing his student-athletes as soccer players and young men,” Bowlsby said. “With Jeremy at the helm, we look forward to returning Stanford men’s soccer to national prominence year in and year out.”
The men’s team will have several months to train before the Cardinal sees its first action under Gunn when the spring schedule opens in April.