January 19, 2022 – TurnkeyZRG recently placed Neil Jones as head soccer coach for University of Wisconsin. Mr. Jones previously led the Loyola University Chicago men’s soccer program for nine years. “We are thrilled to welcome Neil Jones as our next men’s soccer head coach,” said Chris McIntosh, Wisconsin’s director of athletics. “He has a proven track record of elevating the lives of the student-athletes he works with as individuals and collectively turning that into team success on and off the playing field. We look forward to him building on that record of accomplishment here at Wisconsin,” he added.
Mr. Jones holds a diverse list of successes ranging from an NCAA title and NCAA tournament appearances to conference championships. Among those accomplishments are two Missouri Valley Conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances at Loyola, including the first NCAA win in program history. His teams played in three consecutive MVC championship games from 2018 to the spring of 2021. He also led the 2014 and 2016 Missouri Valley Conference Coaching Staffs of the Year. Mr. Jones finished 81-54-24 (.585) at Loyola University Chicago, with his teams also maintaining at least a 3.0 grade-point average in each campaign.
A Winning History
“Thank you to Chris McIntosh, Marija Pientka and the search committee for entrusting me as the next Wisconsin head men’s soccer coach,” Mr. Jones said. “It was evident throughout my time on campus that along with the world-class education, excellent facilities, beautiful campus and the thriving city of Madison, the people are truly Wisconsin’s greatest asset.”
“I am eager to meet the team and get to work on the pitch with them,” he added. “The opportunity to work with the group for the entire spring season will help build the foundation for our first season together this fall. I’m also excited to connect with our Badger men’s soccer alumni, who have their fingerprints all over the rich tradition and championship history of this program.”
Before Loyola, Mr. Jones served as associate head coach at Northwestern for three seasons, helping aid the Wildcats to 2011 and 2012 Big Ten regular-season titles and the 2011 Big Ten Tournament championship. The 2012 team reached the NCAA round of 16.
Serving as an assistant coach at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), his alma mater, Mr. Jones’ teams made four NCAA tournament appearances, culminating in the 2006 NCAA championship. The team also won Big West Conference championships in 2006, 2007 and 2009.
A two-year captain, two-time All-Big West selection, an Academic All-American and Big West Scholar Athlete of the Year, Mr. Jones played for a UCSB squad that reached the 2004 NCAA final and competed in the 2002 and 2003 NCAA tournaments. The team went 66-15-7 during his four years on the pitch.
Creating Championship Experiences
“Neil has a strong background in recruiting and player development,” said Marija Pientka, Wisconsin’s senior associate athletic director for sports administration. “As a successful coach and accomplished former student-athlete, Neil understands what it takes to create championship experiences for our student-athletes on and off the pitch. I’m thrilled for our men’s soccer student-athletes to have the opportunity to learn and excel under Neil’s leadership.”
A native of Auckland, New Zealand, Mr. Jones represented his country internationally, playing at the under-17, under-20, under-23 and full international levels. In addition to his collegiate coaching experience, he boasts time since 2016 as a USA national team scout at the regional and national level for U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-18 boys. He also spent 2012 through 2020 as a professional match evaluator for MLS. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC Santa Barbara and a United States Soccer Federation ‘A’ coaching license.
Founded in 1996, TurnkeyZRG is a specialized talent recruitment/executive search firm filling C-level, senior-level and mid-management-level positions throughout sports, media and entertainment. Over the past 25 years, the firm has filled more than 1,400 positions. TurnkeyZRG helps teams, leagues, stadiums, arenas, theaters, college athletic departments, events, sponsors, agencies, media companies, private equity companies and other clients identify, recruit, and hire the best management talent.
Collectively, the members of TurnkeyZRG have placed coaches and athletics directors at many Pac-12 universities, including Arizona, Cal, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. Late last year, TurnkeyZRG helped the ACC hire its next commissioner, James J. Phillips, the Combe Family vice president for athletics and recreation at Northwestern University. TurnkeyZRG spoke with stakeholders across the ACC in developing the job description, and assembled a diverse array of candidates across sports, education, business and government.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media