Grassie, 38, returns to Huntington after spending the last six seasons at the University of Charleston, where he compiled a 99-20-8 record and advanced the Golden Eagles to the NCAA Division II Final Four the last three seasons. UC was the national runner-up in 2014 and 2016.
The Thundering Herd’s new head coach is familiar with the program. Grassie served as a graduate assistant at Marshall from 2004-06, where he focused on team training, goalkeepers and recruiting. While at MU, he received his master’s degree in exercise science with a focus in athletic administration.
“I’m honored to accept the position of men’s soccer coach here at Marshall,” Grassie said. “I’d like to thank Mike Hamrick and Jeff O’Malley for choosing me for this role, and for their belief that I can lead a truly successful program here. I’m excited to get started on this new chapter for Marshall soccer, and I hope I can make all of the alumni and those associated with the program proud.
“I’d like to thank Dr. Bren Stevens and President Edwin Welch from the University of Charleston for all the support they have given me over the last six seasons in building a premier Division II program,” Grassie added. “Finally, I’d like to thank Bobby Gray for all of his support over the years, as it was Bobby who, 13 years ago, gave me my start in Division I men’s soccer as his assistant at Marshall, which makes this such a special homecoming for me. I hope I can make him proud and I know he will be our No. 1 fan.”
Grassie replaces Gray, who retired in November after 22 seasons and 190 wins with the Herd.
“I would say that Chris is highly motivated, knowledgeable and one of these up-and-coming coaches who is going to have an outstanding career,” Gray said. “I think he will do well at Marshall. He has paid his dues and has been very successful with what he has done, not only at Charleston but at the University of Michigan.
“When he was at Marshall he was only a graduate assistant but he might as well have been a full-time coach. You could tell it was in his blood to want to do this for a living.”
Grassie is the winningest coach in University of Charleston history. In the last three seasons, UC is 61-7-3, including a 29-4-2 record in the Mountain East Conference and 32-1-1 record at home. Grassie led UC to the MEC tournament championship in 2013, and MEC championships in 2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2014, when the Golden Eagles posted the best record in the country and led all Division II programs in goals scored and goals against average, Grassie won the MEC Coach of the Year and NSCAA Atlantic Coach of the Year awards. In 2015, when UC finished 20-3-0, Grassie won the MEC Coach of the Year and MEC All-sports Coach of the Year awards.
“We are fortunate to have found a coach with this amount of experience and success,” Hamrick said. “Chris has won consistently and at a high level for his entire head coaching career, he played college and coached in our state and spent three years working as an assistant coach to Bob Gray here at Marshall.
“We are excited to have someone who has competed for championships, who has played professionally and has developed professionals. He has a degree from Marshall and he lived in Huntington and wanted to come back and be part of the Thundering Herd family. That makes this a perfect fit.”
Grassie’s UC teams have won six consecutive conference tournament championships dating back to the now-defunct West Virginia Conference. He has coached eight All-Americans and four of his former players landed professional contracts. UC’s program reached No. 1 in the national rankings under his direction, and finished the 2016 season ranked No. 2 after losing to Wingate University in the national championship game. The Golden Eagles have consistently been ranked in the top 3 nationally the last three seasons.
Under Grassie’s direction, UC had the West Virginia Conference Player of the Year in 2012; Mountain East Offensive Player of the Year, MEC Defensive Player of the Year and MEC Freshman of the Year in 2014; and MEC Offensive Player of the Year and MEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2015.
Prior to UC, Grassie spent four seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan (2007-10). The Wolverines won the Big Ten championship in 2010 and appeared in the 2010 College Cup, losing in the semifinals to eventual national champion Akron.
Prior to arriving at Marshall, Grassie spent the 2003 season as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Alderson Broaddus. As a player at Alderson Broaddus, Grassie was named to the all-conference team multiple times and was a team captain. He majored in political science and history. After graduation, Grassie played professionally in England, most notably with Northwich Victoria.
Grassie is a native of Newcastle upon-Tyne in the United Kingdom. He and his wife, Allison, have two children: a son, Ever, and a daughter, Ia.
Chris Grassie, head coaching career
2016 – University of Charleston, 19-3-2, MEC champions, Division II national runner-up
2015 – University of Charleston, 20-3-0, MEC champions, Division II national semifinalist
2014 – University of Charleston, 22-1-1, MEC champions, Division II national runner-up
2013 – University of Charleston, 12-5-1, MEC tournament champions
2012 – University of Charleston, 13-2-4, WVIAC champions
2011 – University of Charleston, 13-6-0, WVIAC champions