FAYETTEVILLE – Colby Hale has been named head women’s soccer coach at the University of Arkansas, Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long announced Wednesday.
One of the nation’s fastest rising assistant coaches, Hale has helped guide multiple programs to success on the field and in the classroom. He most recently spent nine seasons at the University of Central Florida (UCF) helping the Knights to 130 wins (130-50-22) with six conference championships (4 Conference USA, 2 Atlantic Sun), seven NCAA Tournament bids and eight wins in the postseason. In seven years in Conference USA, UCF was 56-11-9 with four league titles.
In three years at Oral Roberts University, Hale helped lead the Golden Eagles to 38 wins and a pair of conference titles. Academically, all 12 teams he’s worked with as a coach have recorded team grade point averages of 3.0 or better.
“We are excited to welcome Colby Hale as the new head soccer coach at the University of Arkansas,” Long said. “Throughout his career, Colby has helped guide teams to conference championships and NCAA postseason success. He is dedicated to teaching and coaching both the fundamentals and finer points of the game. He has also done an outstanding job of recruiting student-athletes and helping them achieve athletic and academic success. I believe he will move our program forward competitively and help us meet our goal of comprehensive student-athlete development.”
In Hale’s nine seasons, including the last five as associate head coach, the Knights had 19 wins or ties against teams ranked in the top 25, ended the year ranked among the top 25 in the RPI ratings six times and ranked in the top 25 in scoring six times with 398 totals goals scored for an average of 44 per season. As the recruiting coordinator, he brought in six classes ranked among the nation’s best, including the No. 24 class in 2006 and the No. 39 class in 2008.
“I am extremely excited to be the new head soccer coach at the University of Arkansas,” Hale said. “I am honored to have this tremendous opportunity to work with our student-athletes to build a successful Razorback soccer program. As I visited with Jeff Long about this position, it was clear that the University of Arkansas is committed to competing and winning on the field as well as achieving in the classroom. I am confident that with that support we can succeed both athletically and academically in the SEC and nationally.
“I’d also like to thank Amanda Cromwell and UCF for the opportunity to represent that institution. My time there was extremely rewarding and I am honored to have been able to be a part of the considerable success over the past nine years.”
The highlight of Hale’s time in Orlando was in 2011 when the Knights reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament with wins over Florida International, No. 20 Florida and No. 19 North Carolina before falling to No. 6 Wake Forest. UCF finished 13-5-6, and ranked No. 12 in the nation in the National Soccer Coaches Association Continental Tire poll and No. 20 in the RPI rankings against the 11th-toughest schedule in the nation.
The Knights tied for third in Conference USA at 6-2-3, but they were second in the league in wins and goal differential (plus-13, 36-23). UCF was third in shots (349), points (109), goals (36), assists (37) and shutouts (10).
While 2011 was a banner season, it wasn’t the first big year for Hale and the Knights. In his nine years on the staff, UCF earned seven NCAA Tournament bids and advanced to the second round in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 before the 2011 tournament run.
In 2010, UCF was 15-5-3, won the C-USA regular-season title, beat Fresno State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, was ranked No. 16 while playing the 12th-toughest schedule in the country and was 17th in the nation in scoring. In 2009, UCF won C-USA at 10-1, finished 17-5-1 with a ranking of No. 8 after reaching as high as No. 3, and had wins over No. 4 Florida State and No. 10 Duke.
The 2008 club was 14-6-3 and beat Miami in the first round of NCAA play. In 2007, the Knights were 15-4-4, won a share of the C-USA championship, beat Auburn in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and ended the year No. 20 in the final RPI poll.
His first year on the staff in 2003, UCF was 16-5-1 and earned an NCAA bid after winning the Atlantic Sun title. The 2004 squad was 17-4-2, won the Atlantic Sun, had wins over No. 10 Florida and No. 14 Florida State, and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Knights moved to Conference USA in 2005 and went 12-10 the first year, tying for the league title at 8-1. The 2006 team was 11-6-2 with wins over No. 9 Rice and No. 15 SMU.
Before going to UCF, Hale was an assistant for three years at Oral Roberts. He helped the Golden Eagles win two Mid-Continent Conference regular-season titles and set a school record for wins in 2000 with 14. In his three years, ORU was 38-19-3, including the nation’s longest unbeaten streak of 11 games in 2001.
Hale has also worked as the director of coaching at the Central Tulsa Thunder Soccer Club and as a boy’s assistant at Union High School in Tulsa when Union won the 1997 Oklahoma Class 5A state title.
Hale, a 1997 graduate of ORU with a bachelor’s in theology, played two years in England before lettering three times at ORU, where he was a two-time team captain.
He has his USSF “A” license, NSCAA Premier License, NSCAA Distinguished License and NSCAA Advanced National License.