Longtime mentor spent part of six decades as part of Spartan soccer program. Photo courtesy of MSU SID.

 

EAST LANSING, Mich. –  Joe Baum, who spent parts of six decades as a vital member and mentor of the Michigan State soccer program, has announced he will retire effective June 30, 2011. Baum has served the last two seasons as the program’s assistant coach after a 32-year run as the head coach, has played a prominent role in the program’s top moments, and has consistently served as a outstanding ambassador for the University and the Athletic Department.

“This has been a wonderful, rewarding journey as a part of Michigan State University, the athletic department, and the soccer program,” admits Baum. “I have been so very blessed to work here all of these years, and this University will always be an incredibly special place for me and my family.”

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“Joe Baum is a true Spartan, and in so many ways, Joe Baum is Michigan State soccer,” Michigan State Director of Athletics Mark Hollis said. “His dedication to the sport of soccer and to Michigan State University has been remarkable.   Joe remained a vital part of our program after stepping down as head coach, and will forever be a Spartan held in high esteem.  We wish him the best in his retirement from Michigan State University.”

“Joe Baum has exemplified excellence, winning with integrity and honoring the student-athlete experience during his lengthy and successful tenure at Michigan State University,” added Shelley Appelbaum, Senior Associate Director of Athletics and the sport administrator for the Spartan soccer programs. “Joe’s long-standing career will have a lasting legacy, and it has truly been a privilege to work with Joe, his staff and team over the last 12 ½ years.  It is with deep gratitude that we extend our appreciation for his contributions to MSU Athletics, the Big Ten Conference and on the national level as he always represented Spartan Soccer in a first class fashion.  The Spartan Family wishes he and Janice the very best of health and much happiness as they begin the next chapter in their lives.”

Baum, who was a goalkeeper for the men’s soccer program in the late 60s and helped the Spartans win a share of the 1968 NCAA Championship, helped the most recent team into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament, where it fell to North Carolina in penalty kicks.  He returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach in the early 70s, and patrolled the Spartan sidelines for 36 seasons.  Baum stepped down as the head coach of the program after the 2008 campaign, turning the reins of the program over to longtime assistant and former player Damon Rensing.  Baum stayed on with the program as an assistant coach to his protégé, and this past season, helped lead the Spartans into the NCAA Round of 16, the furthest MSU had advanced in the NCAA Tournament since Baum was the team’s goalkeeper for the Spartan 1968 NCAA co-Champions.  

“ Joe has been much more than a coach and boss to me – he has been a mentor and friend,” said Rensing.  “I have learned a great deal from him about coaching, but even more about life in general. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to play under and work for here at Michigan State University. I am truly happy for Joe, Janice,  and his family.”

“ When I first got into coaching, I was so wrapped up in learning the X’s and O’s of soccer,” continued the current Spartan mentor.  “Over time, I’ve seen that you can learn those things from a lot of coaches; however, people management, motivating student-athletes, and team building cannot be learned from many people. Joe is as good as there is in this business when it come to those concepts.” 

During his tenure at Michigan State, Baum has written his name among the titans of college soccer. The 1969 MSU graduate has three times been named Big Ten Coach of the Year (1996, 2000 and 2008). and he mentored the Spartans to 22 winning seasons. Overall, he owns a career record of 320-228-54. Baum guided the Spartans to the NCAA Tournament four times in his final eight seasons. He coached 42 All-Big Ten performers, seven all-region honorees and two All-Americans. 

In 2007, Baum became just the 26th coach in NCAA Division I history to reach 300 career wins, reaching the mark on Sept. 9, when MSU defeated Vermont in the championship match of the Nike Soccer Classic. With the win, he joined Indiana’s legendary coach Jerry Yeagley as the only Big Ten coaches to ever reach the mark.

His 2008 team was determined to send its coach out a winner, winning the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.   As he transitioned into an assistant coaching role on the sideline with Rensing, the Spartans continued that success, advancing to the round of 16 in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. 

Baum’s contributions were not limited to the men’s program – he also helped build MSU’s women’s program, serving as the program’s first head coach from 1986-90 and compiling a strong 69-23-5 (.737) record. Impressively, he mentored both the MSU men’s and women’s programs over that five-year span.  One of Baum’s former players, Tom Saxton, has served as the Spartan women’s head coach since 1990.

“To me, Joe Baum is Michigan State Soccer,” said Saxton, who has won nearly 200 career games in his head coaching career at MSU.  “His career spans five decades, from starting in goal on the National Championship teams of the 60s, becoming the head coach for the men’s team in the 70s, starting the women’s program in the 80s, and then leading the men through the 90s and winning the Big Ten title in his last year as Head Coach, Joe has left a deep imprint. He is a great coach, mentor and friend. Most importantly, he is a great human being.”

Baum began his coaching career in 1969 at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville as an assistant to Bob Guelker. From there, he took a similar post at Wisconsin-Green Bay from 1972-74.

In 1974, Baum came to Michigan State as an assistant to Ed Rutherford. Baum held the position for three seasons, helping State post a record of 25-7-3 (.757). He was promoted to the head coaching position in 1977 when Rutherford stepped down to serve as a full-time administrative assistant to then-Athletics Director Joe Kearney.

A three-year soccer letterman at MSU from 1966-68, Baum led the Spartans to a 33-1-7 record, including a 33-game unbeaten streak. He was in goal for two NCAA co-championship squads and was named to the 1968 All-Midwest team by the National Soccer Coaches of America. Baum still owns the second-lowest career goals-against average (0.70) in Spartan men’s soccer history.

Baum received his bachelor’s degree in communication from MSU in 1969 and a master’s degree in counseling from Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in 1971. His family includes his wife Janice, along with children, Stefan and Kelsey.