Notre Dame Athletics | November 30, 2017
After 31 highly successful seasons produced 369 victories as a collegiate men’s soccer head coach--216 of those, highlighted by the 2013 NCAA title, during the last 17 years in that role at the University of Notre Dame—the Bobby Clark coaching era has ended.
Clark announced his retirement today, nine days after his current Irish team saw its 2017 season come to a close in the second round of the NCAA Championship. That marked the 16th appearance for a Clark-coached Notre Dame side in the NCAA bracket in a season that saw the Irish reach the number-one ranking in the polls early in the year.
“I just finished telling our team that this, my 17th season at Notre Dame, will be my last,” said Clark. “This has been possibly the hardest decision I have had to make in my time at Notre Dame. I have loved my time at this University and, although I have kept postponing retirement, with my 73rd birthday coming up next year I felt it was time to be in a position to spend quality time with Bette, my wife of almost 50 years, my children and importantly my seven grandchildren. I have always looked at my team as extended family, so the players will be greatly missed. If I stretch my collegiate coaching career back to when I began at Dartmouth back in 1985 then I really do have a lot of extended family.
“Giving up a dream job teaching the sport that I am addicted to has not been easy. Never a week goes by without one of my former players dropping me an email or making a call. The biggest part of being a teacher/coach is that you, and the sport you teach, help them grow up in a positive yet competitive environment. That has been very fulfilling, but doing it in the special environment that has been created around Notre Dame is very rewarding. I must thank the Notre Dame athletic department, which is superbly run, all my assistant coaches, trainers, administrators, fellow coaches in other sports, the support staff and everyone who has helped make this a very special 17 years of my life.”
After coming to Notre Dame in January 2001, Clark quickly set about putting the Irish back into the national collegiate soccer conversation on a consistent basis. In the two seasons prior to his arrival, the program suffered consecutive losing campaigns, but under Clark Notre Dame compiled a winning record every season en route to an impressive 216-93-55 (.669) mark. The Fighting Irish ranked in the final United Soccer Coaches poll in 14 of Clark's first 16 seasons and finished the 2017 regular season rated 12th. Each of his last six Notre Dame teams earned a top-16 NCAA seed.