Rob Russo enters his 21st season as head coach of the Denison men's soccer program in 2019.
Since his arrival in Granville, Russo has guided the men's soccer team to 197 victories, three North Coast Athletic Conference championships and three NCAA Division III Tournament appearances.
In 2015, the Big Red went 11-3-3 highlighted by a win over nationally ranked Emory and a 1-1 draw against Ohio Wesleyan. In 2010, the Big Red posted a 10-8 record and advance to the championship game of the NCAC Tournament before falling, 3-1, to nationally-ranked Ohio Wesleyan in a rematch of the 2009 championship.
In 2009, the Big Red posted a 12-5 record and finished with a 6-1 mark in conference play. They entered the NCAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed and went on to defeat Kenyon in the semifinals before a momentous upset of the nation's top-ranked team and previously unbeaten, Ohio Wesleyan, in the championship game. The team moved on to their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and their third appearance under Russo's direction.
In 2006, Russo led the Big Red to a 12-4-2 record overall, finishing 7-1-1 in the conference. Denison advanced to the North Coast Athletic Conference title game and battled Allegheny for the full 90, sending the game into overtime. In the 96th minute of overtime the Big Red netted a dramatic breakaway goal, sending them to yet another NCAA tournament. Highlights of the season include a school record for having only 13 goals scored against the Big Red. The previous season saw Russo join an elite group of active NCAA coaches who have reached the 300-win milestone with their 2-1 victory over Hiram College.
Russo's 2003 squad posted a program-best 18-3 record and a share of the North Coast Athletic Conference Championship. Denison began the year with a school-record 13 consecutive victories and was ranked as high as No. 2 in the NSCAA/Adidas Division III men’s soccer national poll. The Big Red qualified for the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in school history and the first time since 1983. He was also named the NSCAA Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.
He enters the 2019 season with an overall coaching record of 424-234-57, a .634 winning percentage. Over his 20 years at Denison he has maintained the winning tradition of the Big Red program and has gone 197-131-35 over that span. In addition, after the team's record-setting 2003 season, Russo was named the NSCAA Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year for the second time in his career.
Russo, who is certified by the United States Soccer Federation with an "A" license, holds a bachelor's degree in physical education (1977) from Wilmington College, where he also played varsity soccer. Russo continued his education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, earning a master's degree in health and physical education (1979). While at Miami, Russo served as both assistant and head coach of the Redhawks' men's soccer team. Most recently, he was the men's soccer coach at the State University of New York - College at Oneonta from 1995 through 1998.
Russo began his coaching career in 1978 at Miami University of Ohio as an assistant on the men's soccer staff. In 1980, he was named head coach of the program as well as serving as a physical education instructor during his time at Miami. Following his four-year stint in Oxford, Russo moved on to coach the men's soccer team at Gannon University in Erie, Pa. During his nine years at Gannon, Russo's teams appeared in the NCAA Division II tournament six times. He was named the Western Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Soccer Conference Coach of the Year three times (1983, '84 and '85), Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year and National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) National Coach of the Year. In January of 2010, Russo was inducted into the Gannon University Hall of Fame where he remains the program's all-time leader in coaching victories.
In the fall of 1991, Russo took the head coaching position at the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg. During his four seasons in Spartanburg, Russo's teams advanced to the NCAA Division II tournament each year. In 1992, he was named the NSCAA South Regional Coach of the Year. He earned Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year recognition in both 1992 and 1994. Russo also served as a physical education instructor. He was president of the Western Pennsylvania Intercollegiate Soccer Conference in 1983.
Along with his soccer coaching responsibilities, Russo's position includes appointment as an assistant professor in Denison's Department of Health Exercise and Sport Studies.