illinois Digital News

Josh Oakley Hired As EIU Men’s Soccer Head Coach


Eastern Illinois Director of Athletics Tom Michael has announced the hiring of Josh Oakley as the Panthers new men’s soccer head coach. Oakley, a former Panthers assistant coach, becomes the 11th head coach in program history.


Oakley, a Mattoon, Illinois native, served as an assistant coach with Eastern Illinois from 2000-02 helping the Panthers post a .555 win percentage over those two seasons playing as a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.  During that time Oakley helped coach future MLS player and the NCAA’s leader goal scorer in 2000, Jason Thompson.


Oakley comes to EIU with 25 years of coaching experience, most recently as the head coach of Lansing Common FC in the Midwest Premier League.  During the 2021 season Oakley coached the team to a 10-1-3 record as they ranked second in the league with 35 goals scored.  The franchise earned a NISA Independent Cup bid as the top non full-pro organization in the MWPL.  The team were MWPL East Division runners-up and included the MWPL Golden Boot Winner in former EIU player Shady Omar.


“I am excited to return to the place where my collegiate coaching career started.  I have learned much on my coaching path and hope to bring a lot of those things back to Charleston with me this time.  I grew up around EIU soccer, and to have a second opportunity to be a part of this long storied program makes me not only happy, but proud,” said Oakley.  “Thank you to Tom (Michael), Mark (Bonnstetter) and the search committee for an enjoyable process in becoming the new soccer coach.  I would especially like to thank my wife Jasmine for her support, and for believing in this endeavor just as much as I do.  There is much to be done here, and the course of action will be long term.   Every day I will consider myself blessed to be a part of Eastern Illinois University and appreciate the opportunity to work our gifted student-athletes.”


“We are excited to welcome Josh and his wife Jasmine back to Central Illinois and to our EIU Panther Family,” said Michael.  “We had strong interest in the head coaching position for our men’s soccer position which says great things about where our program stands.  During the interview process, both on the phone and on-campus, Josh’s qualities as both a great soccer mind and a great person were evident.  With his experiences as a head coach building programs at several different levels of soccer, I’m confident that he will continue to build upon the foundation that has been put in place over the past several years here at EIU.”


Oakley has had success in building programs with head coaching stops at Spring Arbor University, Alma College and Asbury University.  At Spring Arbor he led the program to two Crossroad League Championships and qualified for back-to-back NAIA National Tournaments.  Oakley was twice named the Crossroads League Coach of the Year with the program nationally ranked in the NAIA Top 25 during his tenure.


Oakley took over the Spring Arbor program following eight seasons as the head coach at Alma College.  During his time he guided the program to four MIAA playoff appearance including the school’s first MIAA playoff appearance in 2014.  He produced the first winning season in program history and had the program ranked in the NCAA Central Region Top 10 during four seasons.  Oakley went to Alma College after a successful run as the head coach at Asbury University.   He led the program to three KIAC Championships and was twice named the KIAC Coach of the Year.  Under his guidance Asbury made its first-ever appearance in the NAIA Region XII Playoffs and played in the NCCAA National Tournament after winning the NCCAA Mid-East Championship. 


In addition to his success at the college level, Oakley coached at the club level with TNT Dynamite SC in the Midwest Regional League with two State Cup finalist appearances along with the development of future MLS player DeJuan Jones.  Oakley also coached with CFC Panther SC in the Central Illinois Youth Soccer League.


Oakley played collegiate soccer at Indiana Wesleyan University and Monmouth College. While at IWU, he helped the team to a Mid-Central College Conference title, a district championship and a Top 25 national ranking. Oakley was one of four players to play in every match and finished the 1994 season third in scoring. He also helped Monmouth to its first ever Midwest Conference South Division Championship in 1996. For his efforts at Monmouth, he was named a two-time All-Midwest first team selection. He earned most valuable player and captain honors while he was the team’s leading goal scorer his junior and senior seasons. He finished his three-year campaign at Monmouth as the program’s third leading goal-scorer of all-time.

Oakley holds a Bachelor of Arts in Physical Education with a Business Administration minor from Monmouth College (Ill.) and a Master of Science in Sports Administration from Eastern Illinois University.

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