Ryan led the USA to third place at the 2007 Women's World Cup, but the 4-0 loss to Brazil in the semifinals and the controversy surrounding his decision to drop goalie Hope Solo for the semifinals resulted in his dismissal.
Ryan replaces Debbie Rademacher, who started Big Blue women's soccer and resigned in November after 14 years at the helm.
Ryan returns to the Big Ten, where he coached at Wisconsin (1986-93). He also coached women's programs at SMU, his alma mater, and Colorado College. In 15 years as a head coach in Division I women's soccer, he boasts a 189-81-18 (.688) record.
"I think it is a program that has a great upside," Ryan said. "It's a program that could develop into, certainly, one of the top teams in the Big Ten and potentially one of the top teams in the country and so I am excited by the challenge of coming to Michigan."