LOGAN, Utah – Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell announced Tuesday that Rob Neilson has been named the 11th head coach of the volleyball program. Neilson is currently the first assistant for the U.S. Men’s National Volleyball Team.
He plans to establish his staff and begin recruiting immediately, while the team prepares for spring practices. He will continue to work with Team USA in some capacity through this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“Sarah and I are thrilled to join the Utah State family. I’m incredibly grateful for the trust and support of John Hartwell, Jerry Bovee and Amy Crosbie,” Neilson said. “The university, previous staffs and alumni have built the foundation for an incredible volleyball program and we look forward to working with players, staff, recruits and the Cache Valley community to build on that foundation to a championship standard.”
Neilson comes to Utah State with 14 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and international levels.
“We had a lot of interest in this position and Rob emerged as the clear choice to lead the Utah State volleyball program,” Hartwell said. “We are excited to have him and his family be a part of the Aggie family.”
Neilson has spent the last three years as the first assistant with the U.S. Men’s National Team. He helped Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships, the team’s first medal finish in 24 years. In 2019, the team took silver at Volleyball Nations League and medaled in its last four major international competitions. In 2017, Neilson developed offensive game plans for the team before switching to the defensive side for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
Before joining Team USA, Neilson spent 10 seasons on the men’s volleyball staff at BYU. He was an assistant coach under Shawn Patchell from 2006-10, serving as the team’s recruiting coordinator and overseeing player development. He then spent the 2011 season as interim head coach, guiding the team to a 20-8 record and a No. 2 national ranking.
Neilson returned to an assistant coaching role at BYU in 2012 under Chris McGown, before being named associate head coach prior to the 2014 season. In that position, he continued overseeing recruiting and player development, adding in practice and game planning, scheduling and donor and alumni relations. He guided the Cougars to two conference championships and a second-place finish in the NCAA Tournament in 2013.
Neilson spent the summer of 2011 as an assistant coach for the USA Youth National Team, competing at the Pan-American Cup in Mexicali, Mexico and the Youth World Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He briefly stepped away from coaching in 2015, working with VolleyMetrics until he joined the U.S. Men’s National Team staff.
Neilson played at BYU from 2003-06, where he was the starting setter in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He helped the Cougars to the 2004 NCAA championship, and posted an overall record of 91-31 in his career. Neilson tallied 2,790 assists in his career, which ranks fifth in the BYU record book in the rally scoring era. Additionally, he is eighth in block solos, recording 28 in his career.
Neilson earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience at BYU in 2006, while also completing his MBA there in 2013. He and his wife, Sarah, have five children, Etta, Liam, Charlotte, Whit and Lois.
ROB NEILSON FILE
Coaching History (14 Years)
2020- Utah State – Head Coach
2017-19 USA Volleyball – First Assistant Coach
2014-15 BYU – Associate Head Coach
2011 USA Youth National Team – Assistant Coach
2010-11 BYU – Interim Head Coach
2006-10 BYU – Assistant Coach
1999-2006 BYU – Setter
2006 BYU – Neuroscience (B.S.)
2013 BYU – Master of Business Administration
Wife – Sarah; Children – Etta (11), Liam (9), Charlotte (7), Whit (5) and Lois (newborn)
What Others Are Saying About Rob Neilson
John Speraw, USA Volleyball head coach
“I am thrilled for Rob and his family and Utah State. You couldn’t find a more capable coach and man of high character and values. He is going to be an incredible representative of Utah State and its volleyball program. As a father of two daughters myself, I know how important of a decision it is as to where to send your daughters to play, and for whom. I can say without reservation that Rob is someone I would trust to coach and train my own daughters. I look forward to seeing the success of the Utah State volleyball program.”
Chris McGown, co-founder Gold Medal Squared and former BYU men’s volleyball head coach
“Rob is one of the best young coaches in volleyball – he’s innovative in his thinking, he’s incredibly committed to the athletes, and he brings wonderful energy and passion to his coaching. Perhaps his greatest attribute is his humility – this shows up in his continual desire to keep improving and learning, and how he’s always looking to do what’s best for the program and the players. I’m thrilled for Rob, for Utah State, and for the athletes that will get to be a part of the program there.”