By Aleksi Lepistoand Tyler Urke in Sports

Athletic director Charles Guthrie has taken a job at San Francisco State University for the upcoming year and will no longer serve as Clark’s director.

Guthrie took the job at Clark in 2011 and was the subject of some controversy for the coaching changes that were made in 2012 and 2013. Despite negative reaction by the community at the time of the changes, 10 of the 11 programs made the playoffs this year.

“When I came on-board, my first objective was to identify and establish positive, productive relationships with a variety of key stakeholders within the Clark College community,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie credited the athletics staff and players, as well as college leadership and student body representatives for his success.

When Guthrie took over Clark’s program, he immediately faced a Title IX complaint filed by former women’s basketball coach Trev Kiser during the previous athletic director’s tenure.

Kiser accused the college of wrongfully terminating him for “promoting compliance with and expressing concern regarding non-compliance with Title IX,” according to The Columbian.

Kiser was eventually awarded $545,000 plus legal fees.

“For any program to evolve you have to have a solid foundation in place that is within the scope and rules of the institution and the conference,” Guthrie said in retrospect. “It isn’t easy, but it is critical to worry about the nuts and bolts with elements such as Title IX, compliance and day to day processes such as athlete eligibility, budget, travel planning. Once those things are in place, you can begin to branch out with fan experience, marketing, development, but if you try to focus on those things without the foundation in place you will be fighting a losing battle,” he said.

Guthrie’s impact has been noticed by those outside of the Clark community.

“I’ve actually had vendors surprised when they realize Clark is a two year school because of the program’s brand,” Guthrie said.

“From an outsiders view, I think Charles has done very well at what he knows best by creating a branding presence in the community and the NWAACC area,” said former men’s basketball coach Mike Arnold. “The new logo looks very good, the signage in the gym is cleaner and more uniform.”

Arnold was one coach who was not retained during Guthrie’s leadership, which sparked uproar among some Clark supporters and even a commentary by then Columbian sports editor Greg Jayne.

Arnold’s replacement, current men’s basketball coach Alex Kirk, credits Guthrie for taking a chance on him.

“Charles has meant everything to me from a professional standpoint, giving me my first college head coaching job,” Kirk said. “He said yes to me professionally when a lot of other people said no. I owe him an incredible amount of gratitude for giving me a shot.”

“By no means is it by circumstance that Clark’s athletic program in [Guthrie’s] tenure here has been very, very successful,” Kirk said.

This season Kirk’s Penguins went 27-2, earning the top seed in the NWAACC tournament where they eventually finished fifth.

Guthrie is looking forward to his new position at SF State. “What is most exciting for me is that I’ve spent such a significant part of my career, prior to coming to Clark, in the California system,” he said.

At SF State, Guthrie will be in charge of an NCAA Division II program with 12 athletic programs.

“Personally, I think he will do very well in his new position,” Arnold said. “The university leadership seems to understand the value of a strong athletic program and they sound committed to revitalizing the athletic department there.”

“Charles is a builder,” Arnold said. “He has shown that he loves to work on a new vision.”

“I wish him the best in his next step,” Arnold said. “He has a lot of new tools in his toolbox from his experiences here at Clark. And those experiences will serve him well in the future.”

An opening for a new Director of Athletics has been posted on the Clark human resources website with a salary range of $58,968 – $65,520. The listing is set to close on June 16.

Assistant Director of Athletics Charlie Warner is expected to continue at Clark.

“I hope everyone I’ve had the pleasure of working with and our student athletes will remember the passion and energy I tried to bring to campus day-in-and-day-out,” Guthrie said. “I also hope I leave the program with a foundation, facilities and overall support that enables the next athletic director to make an even bigger impact.”

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