EAST LANSING, Mich. – Joe Baum, who will open his 32nd season as men’s soccer coach at Michigan State this fall, has announced he will retire following the 2008 season. Current associate head coach Damon Rensing has been named head coach designate, and will take over the Spartan program on Jan. 1, 2009, becoming just the fifth head coach in Michigan State men’s soccer history. Baum will remain active with the Spartan soccer program, serving as the team’s second assistant coach in 2009.
"As we enter the 2008 men’s soccer season, we celebrate the coaching career of a true Spartan," Michigan State director of athletics Mark Hollis said. "For more than four decades, Joe Baum’s dedication to the sport of soccer and to Michigan State University has been remarkable. Along the way, he has become synonymous with the Spartan soccer program. Joe and his wife Janice will continue to be part of our community, and his presence will still be noted, as the men’s soccer team moves forward under the leadership of Damon Rensing.
"Damon possesses the leadership and coaching qualities that will prove successful during a smooth and celebrated transition. In addition to playing at Michigan State, he’s been Joe’s right-hand man for the past nine seasons and understands all that is required to build and maintain a successful Spartan soccer program."
"I have truly loved coaching soccer at Michigan State University," Baum said. "I feel blessed to have done so for 32 years. Looking back on my career, if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it exactly the same way.
"It is now time for a young, vibrant, enthusiastic coach to lead the Spartan soccer program," Baum continued. "I am 110 percent convinced that Damon Rensing is the right coach at the right place at the right time. "
"I am very fortunate to have spent the last nine years with Joe," Rensing said. "He has taught me a great deal about running a Division I program both on and off the field. As I first entered coaching, I was eager to learn about X’s and O’s. What I quickly found out is that I can learn that side of coaching from a number of people, however, when it comes to managing and motivating student-athletes there are few better in the business than Joe Baum. He has been a great teacher and mentor for me, but above all, a close friend.
"I am excited and honored to be named the next head men’s soccer coach at Michigan State University. My main focus right now, is to put all my time and effort to ensure that Joe and the 2008 team have an enjoyable and successful season."
During his tenure at Michigan State, Baum has written his name among the titans of college soccer. The 1969 MSU graduate has twice been named Big Ten Coach of the Year and he has mentored the Spartans to 21 winning seasons. He enters the 2008 campaign 11th among active head coaches with 307 career victories, and he is 23rd on the NCAA’s all-time victories list. Overall, he owns a career record of 307-223-52. Baum has guided the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament three times in the last seven seasons. He has coached 38 All-Big Ten performers, six all-region honorees and one All-American. Four Spartans have been selected in the Major League Soccer Superdraft or supplemental draft in the last four seasons.
Last season, Baum became just the 26th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach 300 career wins, reaching the mark on Sept. 9, when MSU defeated Vermont in the championship match of the Nike Soccer Classic. With the win, he joined Indiana’s legendary coach Jerry Yeagley as the only Big Ten coaches to ever reach the mark.
Baum’s 300th win was just one of many highlights during the 2007 season. The Green and White started the season 7-0-2, allowing just five goals over the nine-match span. After a loss to No. 17 Indiana, MSU defeated No. 3 Notre Dame, 1-0, on Oct. 10. It was the second year in a row Michigan State has beaten the nation’s third-ranked team. Just four days later, the Spartans routed No. 21 Michigan, 5-0, to cap off one of the most memorable weeks in program history.
The 2007 season would also see the Spartans host the Big Ten Tournament, nearly advancing to the final match. Baum’s squad, which spent five weeks in the NSCAA national rankings, earned a berth in the 2007 NCAA Tournament, falling to Oakland, 2-1, at home.
In 2006, Baum guided the Spartans to a 10-6-2 record, including two wins over teams ranked in the nation’s top 25. On Sept. 1, Baum coached the Spartans to one of the greatest regular-season upsets in the program’s history, a 1-0 victory against third-ranked and 2005 national runner-up New Mexico. The 2005 Spartans, led by NSCAA All-American Ryan McMahon, posted eight wins and a winning record.
In 2004, MSU captured its first Big Ten Tournament Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years, finishing the season with a 12-7-1 record. The Spartans made a magical run through the conference tournament as the number five seed, blanking Wisconsin, 1-0, in the first round before shocking defending national champion Indiana, 2-1, in the semifinals. Michigan State capped the tournament with a 1-0 win over Northwestern in the title match.
In 2001, the Spartans (13-6-1) made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1969. The Green and White defeated Butler, 2-1, but fell in the NCAA Second Round to perennial powerhouse Indiana, 1-0.
In 2000, Baum led the Spartans to an 11-6-2 record, including a 4-1-1 Big Ten mark, good for a second-place finish. The four conference wins were the most in school history and earned Baum his second Big Ten Coach of the Year honor.
In 1996, he led the team to a mark of 12-5-2, which also earned him Big Ten Coach of the Year honors. In 1995, Baum guided the Green and White to a mark of 12-3-3, his highest seasonal winning percentage (.750) while at MSU and the program’s best mark since 1975.
Baum also helped build MSU’s women’s program, serving as the program’s first head coach from 1986-90 and compiling a strong 69-23-5 (.737) record. Impressively, he mentored both the MSU men’s and women’s programs over that five-year span.
Baum began his coaching career in 1969 at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville as an assistant to Bob Guelker. From there, he took a similar post at Wisconsin-Green Bay from 1972-74.
In 1974, Baum came to Michigan State as an assistant to Ed Rutherford. Baum held the position for three seasons, helping State post a record of 25-7-3 (.757). He was promoted to the head coaching position in 1977 when Rutherford stepped down to serve as a full-time administrative assistant to then-Athletics Director Joe Kearney.
A three-year soccer letterman at MSU from 1966-68, Baum led the Spartan booters to a 33-1-7 record, including a 33-game unbeaten streak. He was in goal for two NCAA co-championship squads and was named to the 1968 All-Midwest team by the National Soccer Coaches of America. Baum still owns the second-lowest career goals-against average (0.70) in Spartan men’s soccer history.
Baum received his bachelor’s degree in communications from MSU in 1969 and a master’s degree in counseling from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in 1971. His family includes his wife Janice, along with children, Stefan and Kelsey.
Rensing enters his 10th season as a member of the Spartan coaching staff this fall. Following the 2004 season, he was promoted to associate head coach after six seasons as an assistant. During his nine seasons on the MSU sideline, Rensing has helped lead the Spartans to the 2004 Big Ten Championship and the program’s first three trips to the NCAA Tournament since 1969 (2001, 2004, 2007). Michigan State has posted a 97-59-18 (.609) overall record with Rensing on the sidelines, including 11 or more wins in six seasons. Furthermore, he has coached four players who have gone on to be drafted by MLS teams.
As a player, Rensing was a four-time letterwinner and three-year starter with the Michigan State program. He earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior in 1996 after picking up 14 points on five goals and four assists. In addition, he earned second-team all-league accolades as a sophomore and junior. Over his four years, he started 55 of 74 matches, and totaled seven goals, 13 assists and 27 points.
In 1997, Rensing earned his bachelor’s degree in communication. His family includes his wife Daune and two children, Anna and Drew.