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Coaching Jan 17, 2020

University of South Carolina men’s soccer coach Mark Berson to retire after next season

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Mark Berson will coach one more season at the University of South Carolina before retiring following the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, ending a 43-season tenure with the Gamecocks men’s soccer program.

“Coach Berson founded our soccer program, and his teams have excelled on the field, in the classroom, and in the community throughout the years,” Tanner said.  “The 2020 season will be a great opportunity to recognize his contributions to the University of South Carolina and our community.”

Berson is the winningest active coach in NCAA Division I men’s soccer; one of only four coaches in Division I history to achieve 500 wins; and is 30 wins shy of becoming the winningest Division I coach of all time.

Berson’s South Carolina coaching record stands at 503-245-75 (.659), with an overall coaching record of 514-249-75 (.660).  Before founding the South Carolina program, Berson coached one year at The Citadel, where his team posted one of the best records in school history.

Berson’s South Carolina teams have earned 21 NCAA Tournament appearances in 42 seasons.  The Gamecocks have been to four NCAA Quarterfinals, two College Cups, and one College Cup Final. They have advanced to the second round 13 times.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the young men in our program through the years,” Berson said.  “I am appreciative of every student-athlete who has worn the Garnet and Black in our program as well as all of the assistant coaches, support staff and administrators who have backed us.  Our fans have been so loyal and encouraging, I am grateful for their support.”

Berson has coached 13 All-Americans and 15 Freshman All-Americans, and his players have garnered 79 All-Region honors and 59 All-Conference USA honors (since 2005).

The Gamecocks have also excelled in the classroom – posting the highest team GPA in the nation in 2010 and 2013. They have earned 11 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Academic Team Awards (1999, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017) and, since joining Conference USA, Carolina has posted the highest team GPA six times in 13 years.

Berson has also spawned an impressive coaching tree at the college level and beyond. Gamecock players and assistant coaches have become head coaches for at least 18 collegiate soccer programs, including: Appalachian State, Brown, Central Florida, Chicago, Clemson, Davidson, Evansville, Florida Atlantic, Furman, Kentucky (women) and St. John’s.  In Major League Soccer, former Gamecock great Josh Wolff is the head coach of Austin FC and former assistant coach Paul McDonough is the Sporting Director of Inter Miami CF.

In addition to his impact on collegiate soccer, Berson’s presence has been felt in the higher ranks of the sport nationally.  He has a US Soccer “A” coaching license and has been a member of the US Soccer National Instructional Staff since 1989, when he also coached the U.S. Men’s U18 National Team in the Granatkin Tournament in Russia.  Remarkably, there has been at least one Gamecock on the U.S. Men’s National Team in each of the last 31 years, including each of the last four USMNT’s that reached the FIFA World Cup Finals.  Collectively, these players have represented the U.S. in more than 160 matches at the highest level of the sport.

More than 65 Gamecocks have either been drafted or signed to play professional soccer in the U.S. and abroad.  The highest drafted player, Brad Guzan, was selected No. 2 overall in the 2005 MLS SuperDraft, and Clint Mathis was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated – one of only three Gamecock athletes, in any sport, to achieve this honor.  Gamecock players have gone on to distinguished careers in many other fields, including business, dentistry, film, government, law, law enforcement, medicine, medical research and music – including Jim Sonefeld of Hootie & the Blowfish.

In 2015 Berson received the Bill Jeffrey Award, the lifetime achievement award given by the United Soccer Coaches Association for outstanding service or achievement in college soccer. He has also been inducted into South Carolina Lettermen’s Association Hall of Fame and the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association Hall of Fame.

“I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to coaching our team next fall.  I feel great.  I am fortunate to have one of the finest staffs in the country and we have signed two of our best recruiting classes ever in the last two years.  We have a great nucleus returning on this team and we have already hit the ground running this week to get ready for next year,” Berson said.

A national search for a new head men’s soccer coach for the Gamecocks will take place at the conclusion of the 2020 season.