Dr. Gary Cunningham, athletic director at UCSB since 1995, will retire in the summer of 2008, he announced Tuesday. Cunningham oversaw facility improvements to the major athletic facilities at the school, and also hired many of the successful coaches currently at the school, including soccer coach Tim Vom Steeg, who led the men’s soccer team to the 2006 National Championship.
“I am proud of what we have accomplished in my 12-and-a-half years,” Cunningham said in a statement. He came to UCSB after being an athletic director at Fresno State, the University of Wyoming and Western Oregon State College. He also played basketball at UCLA under Coach John Wooden and was an assistant under Wooden for 10 years before coaching the team himself for two years.
A national search will take place to find a replacement for Cunningham, who helped the UCSB program flourish in many ways. UCSB has won six of the last seven Big West Conference Commissioner’s Cups, given to the conference’s all-sports champion. “With his tremendous legacy and stature, he will continue to make important contributions to the promotion of athletics and our understanding of their impact on society,” said UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Cunningham for his outstanding contributions to Gaucho athletics, and especially for his inspirational mentorship of our coaches and student-athletes.”
In addition to the Vom Steeg hire, Cunningham is responsible for hiring men’s basketball coach Bob Williams, whose team is off to a 12-3 start, as wellas both women’s soccer coach Paul Stumpf and men’s tennis coach Marty Davis. Cunningham has also helmed improvements to the Thunderdome, Caesar Uyesaka Staium, Harder Stadium and Campus Softball Diamond. UCSB student-athletes, in the most recent tracking period, graduated at a nearly 80 percent rate.