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Hartzler steps down as Men's Soccer Coach to become full-time AD ; Varnado promoted

FLORENCE, SC – Francis Marion University men’s soccer head coach Murray Hartzler announced on Friday (Nov. 3) his retirement from the coaching profession to concentrate full-time on his duties as the institution’s athletic director.

Hartzler also announced that his assistant coach for the past five seasons, Kevin Varnado, has been named head coach for the Patriot men’s soccer program.

Since joining the FMU coaching staff in the spring of 1994, Hartzler posted a 133-106-13 record in 13 seasons leading the Patriot men’s soccer program. He is the winningest coach in the program’s 32-year history. Of his 13 Patriot squads, six registered double-figure win totals.

FMU recently concluded its 2006 campaign with a 4-12-1 record, following a quarterfinal-round loss in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.

Hartzler was the men's soccer coach at Hiram College (Ohio) for 10 years before coming to Florence. Altogether, he retires with a 219-167-34 men’s coaching record that covers 23 seasons. He ended the 2006 campaign ranking 18th in total victories among all active NCAA Division II men’s soccer coaches.

In each of his first seven seasons on the Patriot bench, he increased or equaled his season win total, capped by his 2000 squad. That team posted a 17-3-1 record, won the Peach Belt regular-season title, spent two weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II national tournament. Two years later, his 2002 Patriot team also captured the PBC regular-season crown.

Hartzler was twice named the Peach Belt Coach of the Year. He served on the 2004-05 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Committee, which governs the Division II men’s soccer championships, and the following year was named national chairman.

Hartzler also began the Patriot women's soccer program in 1995, and in only a few years built the program into a national power. He compiled a 109-35-4 record in eight seasons before relinquishing those coaching duties in 2003. Two of his women’s teams earned invitations to the NCAA Division II national tournament.

In 2000, Hartzler assumed the position of athletic director, following the retirement of Gerald Griffin.

“I am excited about the future of Francis Marion athletics,” Hartzler said. “The business of college athletics has grown so that it is difficult and unfair to balance two jobs, that of AD and head coach.” Entering the 2006-07 academic year, Hartzler was the lone athletic director in the Peach Belt Conference that still held a coaching position.

“This move will allow me to continue to build the Patriot athletic program, especially as we examine our NCAA affiliation. As our men’s golf team and women’s soccer teams conclude their second and final year of transitioning to Division I membership in the spring of 2007, we will be closely checking the status of our remaining 10 sports.

“Holding both positions for the past few years has been taxing, and unfortunately the results on the soccer field have reflected this. Now the program can move on with the full attention of coach Varnado. 

“I am saddened to leave the coaching profession, but as athletic director, I look forward to a continued interaction with our student-athletes, just not on the sidelines and in the locker room. I have relished my time on the Patriot bench and have fond memories of the players that have come through our program.”

A native of Clarence, N.Y., Hartzler earned an undergraduate degree in 1980 from Goshen College (Ind.) and received a master’s degree from Kent State University in 1991.

In addition to serving as Hartzler’s assistant coach, Varnado has also worked as the university’s equipment manager. Varnado becomes the first African-American head coach for a men’s sport at FMU.

Prior to joining Hartzler’s staff in 2002, he coached one season as a men’s assistant coach at St. Andrews Presbyterian College. He earned a B.S. degree in exercise science from St. Andrews in 2000. He was a three-year letterman on the Knights soccer team, earning team MVP honors each season and twice being named to the Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference first-team All-Conference Team. He played one season at the University of Central Florida before transferring to St. Andrews.

Following his graduation, Varnado spent one year as assistant athletic trainer at Alabama State University.

He has a “B” license from United States Soccer and has worked as a staff coach with the South Carolina ODP program.

Last Published: December 1, 2006 11:23 AM
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