In just his first season as UCLA head coach. Tom Fitzgerald led his Bruin team to its fourth NCAA Championship.
Fitzgerald’s first year at UCLA was more than successful - it was unprecedented. After a strong regular-season where he led his team to its first ever Pac-10 Conference title, Fitzgerald became the first NCAA Division I coach to win an undisputed national championship in his first year with the program. He also became just the third coach to win NCAA titles in both Division I and Division II. For his efforts, he was voted by his peers as the NSCAA/adidas National Coach of the Year.
Fitzgerald’s first NCAA title came at the University of Tampa, where he was head coach from 1987-96. He guided his team to the 1994 NCAA Division II National Championship and to NCAA Final Four appearances in 1987, 1992 and 1994. His teams also earned five Sunshine State Conference championships and received NCAA post-season tournament berths nine consecutive seasons. Fitzgerald coached seven Tampa athletes to first-team All-America honors.
He was a three-time NSCAA South Region, Sunshine State Conference and Florida College Coaches Association Coach of the Year and earned induction into the Sunshine State Conference Hall of Fame in 1999. Fitzgerald’s coaching record at the University of Tampa during his nine years was 132-32-11 (.754).
Fitzgerald moved from the college coaching ranks to the professional ranks, serving as head coach of Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew from 1996-2001. He led his team to three consecutive Eastern Conference finals (1997-99) and to the 1998 U.S. Open Cup Finals. The Crew amassed a 70-67-7 record with Fitzgerald at the helm and also defeated several international teams, including Leeds United and Hamburg SV.
In 1999, Columbus built the United States’ first soccer-specific stadium and set team records for victories (19) and road wins (nine). Fitzgerald was promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the Crew in 1996 and led his team to a 9-1 record over the last 10 games of the season.
Fitzgerald’s first head coaching experience was at Jesuit High School in Tampa. From 1978-1981, he led Jesuit to two district championships and a 35-11-6 record. His record during those three seasons led to an assistant coaching position at the University of Tampa from 1981-84. As an assistant coach, Fitzgerald helped guide the Spartans to their first national championship in 1981.
A USSF “A” License and National Coaching Staff instructor, Fitzgerald served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Men’s National “B” team from 1990-94. He also coached the South team to a gold medal at the 1993 U.S. Olympic Festival. Fitzgerald played soccer as a junior at the University of South Florida after transferring from Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York.
Fitzgerald earned a Bachelor’s Degree from South Florida in 1974. He and his wife Debi have two sons, Shane (27) and Jesse (22).
Fitzgerald's Collegiate Coaching Career
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