AMERICUS, Ga. -- Georgia Southwestern State University director of athletics Mike Leeder has hired Eric Crawford to be the school's next head men's soccer coach. Crawford comes to Georgia Southwestern from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., where he served for three seasons as an assistant coach for the RiverHawks.
"We are very excited to have Eric join the Hurricane family as our new head men's soccer coach," Leeder said. "Eric's success as both a player and assistant coach at the NCAA Division II level stood out as we were identifying candidates, and his passion and plan to build a winner here at GSW stood out throughout the interview process."
In addition to his time on the coaching staff, Crawford was a four-year letterwinner at Northeastern State. He becomes the third head coach in GSW men's soccer history, replacing Warren Russ, who announced in October he was stepping down after 12 seasons at the helm.
"I am very excited to take over as the head men's soccer coach at GSW," Crawford said. "The program has a lot of potential and I am thankful to Coach Leeder for giving me the opportunity to lead the team into the 2019 season and beyond."
Crawford, a native of Ontario, Canada, is looking forward to recruiting while settling into his new home.
"From the time I stepped on campus for my interview, the family atmosphere and competitive nature of the staff spoke to me," Crawford said. "After seeing Americus, I knew that this was a place where I would be excited to live and grow my family."
Crawford is the most decorated student-athlete in Northeastern State history. He is the first student-athlete in school history to be a finalist for the Ken B. Jones Award, presented to the female and male student-athletes of the year for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Overall, Crawford is a two-time NSCAA All-American, a seven-time All-Region First Team performer and a three-time All-MIAA First Team honoree. He played at NSU in 2011 when the school was an independent and therefore was unable to be named All-MIAA all four years. He also sat out the 2014 season due to a medical redshirt.
Crawford played in 70 career matches and made 68 starts for NSU. He also captained a back line unit that recorded the three best defensive seasons in school history. He helped lead the RiverHawks to two appearances in the NCAA Championship, including one trip to the quarterfinals, and he also led the team to two MIAA Championships and three runner-up finishes during his career.
He also had a distinguished amateur career with the Toronto Lynx of the PDL and the Oakville Blue Devils of League 1 Ontario. Crawford was named an all-star in 2016, and won the league 1 championship, and the inter-provincial cup in 2015.
His career academic accomplishments included being named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 7 First Team in both 2013 and 2015, and he was also selected to the 2015 NSCAA Men's Division I and Division II Scholar All-America Second Team. He was a four-time member of the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and a two-time MIAA Scholar-Athlete. He was named to NSU's Dean's List 10 times and was once selected to the President's Honor Roll.
Crawford graduated with a degree in Biology, and will be completing his masters degree in Health and Kinesiology.
Special thanks to the Northeastern State University Athletics Department for its contribution to this story