CHARLESTON — Eastern Illinois University’s athletic department has a new member in its family.
EIU athletic director Tom Michael made the announcement Wednesday of the hiring of Josh Oakley. Oakley will be serving as the new head coach of the Panther men’s soccer program.
Oakley, the 11th head coach in program history, is a former assistant coach at EIU. The Mattoon native was an assistant coach with the Panthers from 2000 to 2002, helping the program post a .555 win percentage. At the time, the program was a member of the Missouri Valley Conference.
During his tenure at EIU, Oakley helped coach a future MLS player, Jason Thompson. Thompson was the NCAA’s goal-scoring leader in 2000.
Oakley returns to EIU with 25 years of coaching experience. He was most recently the head coach of Lansing Common FC in the Midwest Premier League.
Oakley coached the team to a 10-1-3 record in 2021, finishing second in the league with 35 goals scored. The team earned East Division runner-up honors and would earn a NISA Independent Cup bid as the first non-full-professional organization in the league. EIU alumni Shady Omar would receive the MWPL Golden Boot award at the end of the season.
Oakley: ‘I am excited to return’
“I am excited to return to the place where my collegiate coaching career started,” Oakley said. “I have learned much on my coaching path and hope to bring a lot of those things back to Charleston with me this time.”
Oakley also expressed his happiness and pride in his second opportunity to be a part of the program. He would acknowledge Michael, Mark Bonnstetter, and other members of the search committee.
“We are excited to welcome Josh and his wife Jasmine back to Central Illinois and to our EIU Panther family,” said Michael. “We had a strong interest in the head coaching position for our men’s soccer position which says great things about where our program stands.”
Michael references the interview process, which was held both via phone calls and on-campus meetings.
Oakley has had a track record in building programs at Spring Arbor University, Alma College, and Asbury University.
Oakley’s career as a player was at Indiana Wesleyan and Monmouth College. In his tenure with both teams, he’s helped deliver conference championships, a district championship, and a Top 25 national ranking.
Oakley has also earned most valuable player and captain honors while at Monmouth.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.