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Clauss wins national AD award

Clauss wins national AD award

The Saddleback College Athletics Department is proud to announce that Dan Clauss has been selected as the 2022-23 Cushman & Wakefield Athletics Director-of-the-Year.  He will be one of 28 athletic directors from varying levels, and one of four from the community college ranks, to be honored at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) in Florida this June. 

Clauss oversees a department with 22 sports, over 100 coaches and staff and approximately 400 student-athletes, annually.   The Saddleback Athletics Department participates in excess of 400 events on a yearly basis. 

During Clauss' tenure at Saddleback College, the school has built a new stadium complex and tennis/pickleball facility, and renovated the women's locker room.  Following the 2023 season, the college will break ground on a new softball stadium. The swimming facility is currently in the process of upgrades, as well, with the baseball stadium next on the department's facilities improvement prioritization list.   

In addition to the daily logistical challenges for events and travel, the department has gone through some major evolutions during Clauss' tenure.  Among them was a mascot change with associated rebranding and the navigation of a global pandemic—which posed technological challenges and required fluid policy creation, increased student support services, and robust change management to protect the health and wellness of some 500 athletes, faculty and staff. 

Despite the changes and challenges, Clauss and the Athletics Department showed remarkable resiliency –-posting arguably the college's best year of competition in 2022.  The program won two national titles (women's soccer and surfing), one state championship (women's soccer) and three Orange Empire Conference championships (men's and women's golf, and baseball).  Currently, Saddleback sits third in the state of California after fall competition in the Daktronics Cup for 2022-23. 

Off the field, Saddleback student-athletes continue to perform at a remarkably high level, academically.  Twenty-two (22) of 23 Saddleback athletic teams earned team GPAs of 3.0 or better.  The athletics program had two teams selected as the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Scholar Athlete Team for 2021-22 (men's golf and baseball) and has another team (women's soccer) nominated for the 2022-23 calendar year.  As a result of stellar athletic and academic performance, Saddleback student-athletes have earned an estimated $1.4 million in scholarships so far in 2022-23. 

Clauss and the department have also worked diligently to maintain and expand community relationships and find creative ways to continue to fund athletics.  For example, Saddleback athletics has raised $375,000 via fundraising through eTeamSponsor.   

"The last six years at Saddleback have been some the most challenging of my entire career," Clauss said.  "The successes we have realized are not mine alone.  I am very fortunate to be surrounded by dedicated, hard-working staff and coaches who are as committed to student success as I am.  I think we all find that providing a young person with an opportunity to thrive through sports makes all of the long hours and challenges worthwhile. Whether assisting a student with injury/illness waivers, troubleshooting eligibility, providing services to help them rebound from setbacks, or navigating their transfer to a 4-year college or a career—these are my favorite parts of the week," Clauss said. "I also remain truly passionate about ensuring our department remains focused on serving and uplifting the local community, who has so selflessly and generously supported Saddleback Athletics and the larger college for over 50 years. Any opportunity to give back and provide them with a place of pride and support, I consider a great honor."

The Athletic-Director-of-the-Year Award program is in its 25th year and has recognized a total of 556 deserving athletics directors to date.  Winners will be recognized in conjunction with the 58th Annual NACDA & Affiliates Convention at the World Center Marriott Resort in Orlando, Fla., at the beginning of the Association-Wide Featured Session on Tuesday, June 13, starting at 4 p.m.