The University of Maryland on Thursday lost successful women’s soccer coach Brian Pensky to Tennessee, a program with big ambitions and, apparently, more money to offer.
After turning down an overture about two weeks ago, Pensky accepted the Volunteers’ second proposal Wednesday.
“I wasn’t ready to leave Maryland after working so hard to create what we did,” he told the Insider. “Tennessee called again a few days ago, and at the same time, I was wondering: ‘What if?’
“I love these kids, I love the program, and in many ways, it’s very sad to go, but the opportunity was too good to pass up.”
Maryland didn’t match Tennessee’s second offer, said Pensky, who had three years remaining on his contract. He declined to discuss details of his Maryland and Tennessee agreements.
A source unaffiliated with Maryland said Pensky was offered a contract extension at the same salary.
The Maryland athletic department is saddled with a multimillion-dollar deficit and, in November, recommended cutting eight varsity programs. Women’s soccer was never in danger, but its operating budget, according to soccer industry sources, is less than half of Tennessee’s. (Tennessee, however, doesn’t offer men’s soccer.)
The Tenneesee women’s team plays in a facility of its own, 3,000-seat Regal Stadium, which was built five years ago. Knoxville-based Regal Entertainment Group financed most of the project, according to the university’s Web site.
At Maryland, the men’s and women’s teams have shared Ludwig Field with lacrosse and track and field. Trailers serve as game-day locker rooms.
The ACC is the top-rated women’s soccer league; the SEC is third.
As of late Thursday night, Maryland hadn’t announced Pensky’s departure. Tennessee issued a news release in the afternoon.
Pensky worked at Maryland for 10 years — three as a men’s assistant and seven in charge of the women’s program. After four losing seasons, the Terrapins posted a 44-14-9 record the past three years and advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament twice. Soccer America named him the national coach of the year in 2010.
Prior to Maryland, Pensky was the boys’ coach at Bullis School in Potomac and an assistant at George Washington University (women) and Loyola in Baltimore (men).
Tennessee was 15-7-0 last season and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Pensky’s predecessor, Angela Kelly, was 160-84-20 with nine NCAA berths in 12 years. She left Knoxville to become the Texas coach.