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NKU's New Soccer Coach Has Record of Winning

Northern Kentucky announced its new men's soccer coach on Monday.

Stu Riddle will take the helm for the Norse, arriving from Buffalo where he led the Bulls to two consecutive Mid-American Conference (MAC) championship matches. He is the fourth head coach in NKU program history, replacing longtime coach John Basalyga, who retired in December after 14 seasons that included the 2010 national title when NKU still competed in NCAA Division II. The Norse are now NCAA Division I.

"On behalf of Norse Nation, I would like to welcome Stu and his family to Northern Kentucky University," said NKU athletic director Ken Bothof, in a statement. "His experience building Division I soccer programs is invaluable as we look to him to continue fostering a culture of success for a program with a storied history. He has displayed a commitment to both athletic and academic success that make him a great fit for our department, campus and community."

In addition to leading Buffalo to a pair of MAC Championship appearances in each of the last two seasons, Riddle guided the Bulls to the program's winningest season in over a decade in 2016 with a record of 12-4-3, which included a school-record 10 shutouts. The Bulls garnered NSCAA top-25 votes for five-consecutive weeks and ended the season with a school record No. 47 ranking in the RPI and No. 4 ranking in the Great Lakes Regional poll. Russell Cicerone, one of Riddle's players at Buffalo for the last four years, is projected by to be selected in the second round of this year's MLS draft, which occurs later this week.

"I would like to thank Ken Bothof and (NKU senior associate athletic director) Dan McIver for giving me the opportunity to lead the men's soccer program at NKU. It was very clear throughout the interview process how professionally run the athletic department is and how important the men's soccer program is to the administration," said Riddle. "The facilities and support network are second-to-none and I can't wait to get on campus, ingrain myself into the local soccer community and work with the team to bring the success this program deserves to NKU."

The Wellington, New Zealand native has eight years of experience as a head coach at the Division I level. Prior to Buffalo, he was head coach at Western Michigan and has amassed a 61-68-21 career record. 

Riddle has made four MAC Championship appearances in the last seven years at two different MAC institutions – Buffalo and Western Michigan. He has coached 17 All-MAC selections along with one conference player of the year and one freshman of the year while 13 players have also received All-MAC Tournament Team honors under his guidance.

"It's a sad scenario to have to leave Buffalo," Riddle told the Buffalo News. "Professionally, I thought I could do big things here, but with the resources at hand, this was as much as I could do."

"I've been to four finals in seven years with two different teams, both in the MAC. I thought it was time for a new conference with a level playing field and a full deck of cards."

In his third year as head coach at Buffalo in 2015, Riddle led UB to its first winning season since 2008. He has also guided his teams to success in the classroom, as the program posted a 3.0 GPA or better in each of his four seasons as head coach to earn the NSCAA Team Academic Award. In the last two seasons alone, Riddle has coached 15 academic All-MAC student-athletes.

At Western Michigan for four years from 2009 through 2013, Riddle led the Broncos to a pair of MAC Championship appearances. In his second year at WMU, Riddle led the team to its best MAC record in school history and also guided the Broncos to their winningest overall record in seven years at 10-8-1. His squad was also recognized by the NCAA for posting an APR progress rate score in the top 10 percent of Division I men's soccer teams.

A 1998 graduate of Coastal Carolina, Riddle began his coaching career as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at his alma mater after playing collegiately for the Chanticleers. He earned All-Big South Conference honors as a player and also played professionally in Australia, England, Scotland and the New Zealand National Team.

His coaching career included stops at the University of Evansville, the University of Southern Indiana and Fairfield University where he served as an assistant coach. He also coached the Kalamazoo Outrage Soccer Club from 2007-08 in the organization's debut season in the United Soccer League's Premier Development League. Riddle earned a master's degree in public service administration from Evansville in 2007 while serving as the assistant coach of the Purple Aces for two seasons.

Northern Kentucky men's soccer has a rich tradition of success, highlighted by a Division II national championship in 2010. Since its inception in 1980, the program has amassed a 384-291-64 overall record (.563 winning percentage), seven conference titles and 14 All-Americans, including the 2010 DII National Player of the Year, Steven Beattie, who currently plays professionally for Cork City FC after being drafted by Toronto FC.

The Norse remained competitive throughout the Division I transition, which began in 2012 and included two winning seasons en route to a 30-31-15 record during the four-year reclassification period. The department was granted official Division I status in August of this year after completing the four-year transition.

-Staff report

Photo: Stu Riddle (provided)