Northwestern announced on Thursday afternoon that men’s soccer head coach Russell Payne has agreed to a multi-year contract extension.
Payne, who took over the reins in 2021, recently led NU to one of its best seasons in recent memory. Although it narrowly fell short of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, Northwestern went 10-4-3 overall and 4-3-1 in Big Ten play in 2023. It marked a significant improvement from Payne’s first two seasons donning purple and white, as NU only won nine combined games. Before 2023, the Wildcats hadn’t won 10 matches since 2013, and hadn’t notched a conference mark as strong since 2014. They received lots of national attention along the way, peaking at No. 12 in the country in early October.
Payne also coached four Wildcats to All-Big Ten teams last year: forward Justin Weiss, midfielder Collin McCamy, defender Nigel Prince and forward Ugo Achara Jr. Defender Fritz Volmar also made the conference’s All-Freshman Team. That was partially a product of Payne’s recruiting; he constructed Top Drawer Soccer’s No. 5 overall class in 2022.
Before heading to Evanston, Payne spent 11 years as a head coach at Army. He went 71-85-31 in West Point, and led the Black Knights to one of their most successful seasons in program history in 2013. In addition to that experience, Payne is currently an assistant coach for the U.S. Men’s National Team, and he served as its goalkeepers coach from 2015 to 2017.
With a number of key pieces set to return from the 2023 team, Northwestern’s newly extended head coach will look to build on the foundation he’s set.