In his ninth season at the helm of the UIC men's soccer program, and 14th overall, Sean Phillips has been a key component in leading UIC to the winningest era in its history.
Phillips led the Flames to their second straight Horizon League Tournament championship in 2017, which capped one of the best runs in program history. Though the team lost five of its first seven games, Phillips engineered a dramatic turnaround. Over the last dozen games of the season, including the conference tournament, UIC went 10-0-2 and finished with a Horizon League record of 6-2-1. The 12-game unbeaten streak tied the program record for most games without a loss. Jesus Perez and Joel Leon were All-Horizon League First Team honorees.
In 2016, Phillips led the Flames back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008 by virtue of the program's fourth Horizon League Tournament championship. He turned the season around after a 1-5-1 start to finish 9-8-3 and 5-3-1 in conference play. Under Phillips' direction, Andrew Putna won Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year, and three Flames (Putna, Jose Fuentes, and Max Todd) were named to the All-Horizon League First Team.
Phillips led the Flames to their second Horizon League regular season championship in the past three seasons in 2015 after the team produced a near undefeated record of 6-1-2 in conference play, marking just the sixth one-loss conference season in program history. Phillips earned his second Horizon League Coach of the Year distinction while coaching Player of the Year Manny Chavez and Co-Offensive Player of the Year Jorge Alvarez.
UIC had one of its most successful seasons in 2013 when it concluded with a 16-4-0 record after winning 16 of their last 18 games and producing a 10-match win streak into the postseason. While making an appearance in the national rankings at No. 23 on Nov. 12, the Flames ended the regular season at 15-3-0, setting a program record for most wins during the regular season, and 7-0-0 in the Horizon League, marking the most conference wins in program history and the first time UIC had won every League match. The feat allowed the Flames to clinch the Horizon League regular season title and the No. 1 seed for the first time since 2008. Phillips capped off the season by being named Horizon League Coach of the Year alongside Player of the Year Bob Novak, Defensive Player of the Year Josh Beard and Freshman and Goalkeeper of the Year Andrew Putna.
With Phillips as the fifth all-time head coach, UIC has recorded a pair of wins over Ohio State (one each in 2010 and 2012) and prominent victories over Gonzaga and Milwaukee (both in 2013), captured two UIC Soccer Classic titles and had 15 players receive All-Region accolades, in addition to earning the NSCAA Team Academic Award three times.
Prior to taking over the head coaching reins in 2010, Phillips served as the top assistant coach of the Flames since 2005. During his tenure, UIC advanced to three straight NCAA tournaments between 2006-2008, including back-to-back Sweet 16 runs and an unprecedented trip to the Elite Eight in 2007. The Flames also achieved their greatest national rankings during Phillips' UIC career, including a school-best No. 4 ranking in 2008.
In 2005, UIC enjoyed the sixth-biggest turnaround in the nation, capitalizing on a rebuilding project that began in the spring of 2005 when Phillips arrived with a new staff as the top assistant. Phillips coordinated countless facets of the program, including recruiting, game strategy, training, scheduling and academics.
Phillips began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Indiana University, in 2000. He helped the Hoosiers advance to three College Cups while on staff, winning a national championship in 2004 before heading to UIC. The Indiana Hoosiers also made a pair of trips to the College Cup during his playing career from 1991-94.
In addition to his work at UIC, Phillips is very active in the soccer community, serving as a clinician for "America Scores Chicago," a soccer league with the purpose of providing boys and girls with an alternative to spending after-school time on the streets, and Urban Initiatives, a nonprofit for kids in the Chicago Public Schools that runs health, education and character development programming. His players are also active in the organizations, serving as coaches, clinicians and role models.
Phillips graduated with a bachelor's degree in Public Policy from Indiana in 1994, and earned his Master's in Sport Management from IU in 2002.
Phillips holds numerous coaching licenses, including an NSCAA Premier Diploma with Distinction, an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma with Distinction, an NSCAA Goalkeeper Level III Diploma, and a USSF B license. Phillips is additionally a scout for the US Soccer Development Academy and is a match evaluator for Major League Soccer.