In the evening hours of Feb. 3, the University of San Francisco lost one of the biggest names in its history. Coach Stephen Negoesco, the namesake of Negoesco Stadium, passed away at the age of 93.
Negoesco was born in Jutland, New Jersey on Sept. 12, 1925. Following the death of his mother at a young age, he was sent to Romania to live with his aunt and uncle. In 1940, Nazi officers in German-occupied Romania imprisoned Negoesco after his American citizenship was discovered. He eventually escaped with the help of the guards.
Negoesco fled to Bucharest, Romania, where he played in the Romanian Football League as a teenager. He eventually returned to New Jersey in 1945.
In 1947, Negoesco moved to San Francisco and enrolled at USF to study biology. He also joined the Dons men’s soccer team.
In his four years on the soccer team, he earned two All-American honors. He captained the Dons soccer team to the 1949 NCAA co-championship title, shared with Penn State.
After his graduation from USF in 1951, Negoesco became a biology teacher for the San Francisco Unified School District, where he would stay for 25 years.
From 1951 to the early 1960s, Negoesco played for various men’s league teams in San Francisco and coached a number of youth teams.
Negoesco took the wheel of the Dons men’s soccer team in 1962. Over the course of the next 39 seasons, he piloted the Dons to four NCAA national championships and 22 conference championships. Upon his retirement from USF in 2000, he had recorded a career record of 540 wins, 172 losses and 66 draws.
Negoesco was the first coach in college soccer history to reach 500 career wins and quite literally wrote the textbook on soccer in America, penning a 144-paged textbook on the game in 1992.
He was known for recruiting diverse teams to the Hilltop. After the Dons won the 1966 NCAA championship, Sports Illustrated released an article titled “USF wins one for the U.N.,” emphasizing that the Dons team that year comprised players from the United States, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Indonesia, Peru, Poland and the then-Soviet Union.
Negoesco did not limit his coaching skills to the Dons. He also coached teenagers, a Police Athletic League team, a club youth team, and the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club, a semi-pro soccer team which ultimately went on to take the U.S. Open Cup in 1976 (then known as the National Challenge Cup). In 1966, he was the coach of six teams at once.
After leaving the Dons in 2000, Negoesco coached Marin Catholic High School, which won the Marin County Athletic League title in 2003.
Negoesco is survived by his six children, 17 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
A public memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10 a.m. in St. Ignatius Church followed by a reception in Fromm Hall at 11:30 a.m.