Wheaton Moves On, Moves Up in Ranks

There is a new void in the Harvard Athletic Department. But that’s only because a bigger one just got filled.

After 18 years as head coach of the women’s soccer team, Tim Wheaton was named an Assistant Director of Athletics at Harvard yesterday.

“I’ve been coaching Division I soccer basically since I graduated from soccer, so it’s a big change,” said Wheaton. “I feel because of my time spent in the athletic department, I have a reasonably good feel of what happens around here, but it’s always different from the other side.”

“I’m excited to learn and contribute in any way I can,” he added.

As an Assistant Director of Athletics, Wheaton will be in charge of many projects. He is beginning work on the 2006 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four that will be hosted by Harvard at the FleetCenter, and is also helping the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams with their marketing efforts.

In addition, Wheaton is responsible for camp operations, professional development of coaches, and event management.

“I’m really excited about the opportunity,” he said. “I love the university, and the opportunity to continue to contribute is a really welcome one.”

Director of Athletics Bob Scalise could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Wheaton—just the second head coach in the history of Harvard women’s soccer—leaves behind a program that went 167-94-27 during his 18-year tenure. He guided the Crimson to four Ivy League championships and eight NCAA tournament appearances, and was named national coach of the year by Soccer Buzz in 1999.

Harvard’s best seasons under Wheaton were in 1997--—when the Crimson reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to eventual national champion North Carolina—and in 1999, when Harvard went 14-2-1 and finished the season ranked in the top-10.

In his final season of coaching, Wheaton led the team to an 8-6-2 record and an NCAA tournament berth, where the Crimson suffered a tough loss to No. 15 Connecticut in the first round.

“My first reaction is that I’m sad to see him go,” said junior goalkeeper Katie Shields, who will serve as one of Harvard’s two captains next season. “Without him, I wouldn’t be here. I’m happy for him in his promotion, but I personally am a little sad.”

In Wheaton’s absence, assistant coach Greg Russ will take over for the rest of the academic year and spring practices will proceed as normal.

“This is an unexpected development, but the team will continue to train the same as it has been in preparation for the fall,” said Russ. “Tim has been a great mentor to me, and I’ll miss him here in the office, but I’m very happy for him.”

Meanwhile, Harvard has already begun a national search for a new women’s soccer coach. Wheaton is unsure if he will be involved in the process.

The Crimson’s next head coach will inherit a team that is returning six of its top eight point scorers from last season, including freshman midfielder Megan Merritt, who led the team with five goals and 12 points. Also returning is Shields, who had the second-best goals-against-average in the Ivy League last season.

“I want to emphasize what a good place I think the soccer team is in,” Wheaton said. “The group of young women was such an honor to work with, and they’re going to have an amazing year next year. I’m certainly going to miss them very much.”

—Staff writer Jonathan P. Hay can be reached at hay@fas.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Carrie H. Petri can be reached at cpetri@fas.harvard.edu.

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