All in the Family

Story by Barry Shiller

Orr Succeeds Clapp as Althetic Director


He stood at a podium in McKeon Pavilion's Rahill classroom in front of coaches he'd helped attract to Saint Mary's; student-athletes he'd mentored; athletic department staff and other campus colleagues; Gael alumni and athletic boosters; local media; his parents, and his wife, April.

And, pledging to keep Gael athletics moving forward, Mark Orr on March 28 became Saint Mary's 20th director of Athletics and Recreational Sports, succeeding Carl Clapp, who resigned to accept a senior position in athletics administration at the University of Hawaii.

The room was brimming with energy and optimism. So was Orr.

"Wow," he said after initial remarks by President Brother Ronald Gallagher at the press conference announcing Orr's appointment. "This is my dream job. I can't wait to get started."

Orr expressed gratitude to Clapp, the outgoing AD who in 2000 brought Orr to Saint Mary's. "Carl, you are a wonderful mentor and friend. I appreciate knowing that we'll be staying in close touch." Then, turning to Brother Ronald, Orr said, "Brother Ron, I will not let you down."

Orr, who turns 30 in June, is no stranger to a Catholic, Lasallian education. A Sacramento native, he starred in football at Christian Brothers High School, earning a scholarship to UC Berkeley. He was a defensive back for the Golden Bears from 1994-98, earning All-Academic Pac 10 honors as a junior and senior. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Cal and interned in their athletics department before coming to Moraga.

As one of the nation's youngest Division I athletic directors, Orr inherits a department that made significant strides under Clapp. Clapp hired nine of the school's 13 current head coaches. The athletic budget grew by $4 million. Saint Mary's made six NCAA tournament appearances. Twice, the National Consortium for Academics and Sports recognized Saint Mary's for implementing outstanding degree completion and community outreach programs.

A top priority for Orr is continuing to implement the strategic plan for athletics adopted in 2004 by Saint Mary's trustees, calling for increased funding, facility improvements, and better competitive results.

Brother Ronald appointed Orr after considering other options, including a national search. He made it clear at the press gathering that he had no doubt about the selection. "We realized we had the right candidate right here," he said.

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