Ever since he began organizing local sports events in his upstate New York neighborhood, Charles Guthrie knew that he wanted to be involved in athletics.
He played some basketball, coached a bit as well, but quickly realized that his true talent lay in administration.
So when he said that being named Clark College’s new athletic director was the culmination of a lifelong goal, he meant it.
“As a kid, I always knew I would be in sports management,” Guthrie said. “I think it was just the fulfillment of having great mentors around me. That’s what allowed me to ascend to this role.”
Guthrie replaces Denny Huston, who took over as interim athletic director in the fall of 2008 and will stay on the payroll as an advisor through the end of the year. Huston, 70, said that the pursuit of his bucket list combined with the fact that “the Mrs. misses me” led to his decision to step down.
But the man taking his place is certainly no rookie to the college athletic scene.
Guthrie makes the move to the Pacific Northwest after serving as the deputy director of athletics at Cal State University, Los Angeles, where he was responsible for fundraising and development while directly overseeing the school’s tennis, cross country and track and field programs.
He previously served as director of alumni and parent relations at California State University, San Marcos, and before that, spent four years as associate director of athletics at the University of California, San Diego.
Guthrie said that he developed an interest in the challenges faced by transfer students during his tenure at CSULA, where the majority of the student body enroll after earning their associates degrees. And considering he played basketball at Onondaga Community College before transferring to Syracuse, Guthrie certainly has an understanding of junior college athletics.
It is this blend of experience and established skill sets that quickly impressed Clark College brass.
“Charles has amazing combination of experiences that will benefit Clark College,” said William Belden, Clark’s vice president of student affairs who interviewed Guthrie along with the two other finalists to make it through the hiring committee. “He’s not only coached, but he has worked in athletic administration, which is pretty critical in the community college setting where we don’t have a large staff. This was a pretty exceptional find.”
Guthrie said that the goal during his first year is to soak up as much information as possible and get a sense of what the “movers and shakers” at Clark would like to see changed. He also is working closely with Huston, who is still trying to see projects — such as the Clark College Hall of Fame — come to fruition.
But as a general philosophy, Guthrie said that he is most interested in seeing “student success,” and preparing student-athletes for the challenges they will face upon transferring to a four-year institution.
“You see kids that have been striving toward a goal since high school, and the first two years gave them an opportunity to gain valuable experience on the court,” Guthrie said. “And when they get to the four-year, that’s their last opportunity, and what you have are really passionate students.”
Guthrie graduated from Syracuse but was not eligible to play basketball because rules required walk-ons to have their two-year degree, which Guthrie did not.
But did he have the skills to play at that level anyway?
“I believe I had the game,” Guthrie said.
Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or email firstname.lastname@example.org