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May 2024

campus beauty fountain

campus beauty fountain

Director of Athletics Renee Baumgartner to Step Down

Accomplished leader cites family health reasons

Accomplished leader cites family health reasons

SANTA CLARA, Calif., May 21, 2024— Santa Clara University President Julie Sullivan announced today that Renee Baumgartner, Director of Athletics, will be stepping down in order to return home and attend to family health matters that require her attention.  Baumgartner has overseen the school’s 20 Division I programs for nine years and will step down effective June 30. 

A woman in a red Santa Clara University letterman's jacket

Baumgartner, who was hired in July 2015, has led the department in a steady rise of athletic accomplishments, as well as the introduction of more than $52 million in new and upgraded facilities and a strong emphasis on academic excellence.  In the process, she has garnered national recognition for her accomplishments in college athletics.  

Renee’s leadership over the past nine years has significantly elevated SCU athletics in many areas, including the holistic development of our student-athletes, the excitement of our game day experience, and the quality of our facilities,” said Sullivan.  “We are grateful for the strength in which Renee leaves our athletic programs and look forward to a bright future that builds upon her legacy.”  

“My time here at Santa Clara University represents the pinnacle of my career,” said Baumgartner.  “The progress we have made in building one of the finest Division I athletic programs in the country has been a testament to the caring and support of the entire Bronco family.  I am so grateful for the support I have received from President Sullivan, each and every one of the student-athletes who have passed through our doors, and the committed staff, coaches and administrators, alumni, and donors who make this an amazing place.  It is time now, to tend to the needs of my family, after 40 years away from home, but I do so secure in the knowledge that Santa Clara Athletics will continue its climb.”

Upward trajectory

Baumgartner’s accomplishments include: 

  • The national powerhouse women’s soccer program won its second national title in a penalty kick victory over top-seeded Florida State in the National Championship match held on May 17, 2021.
  • In December of 2021, Santa Clara University hosted the NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup at Stevens Stadium. The Broncos fell in penalty kicks in the semifinal vs. BYU.
  • The women’s soccer program qualified for the NCAA Tournament each season under Baumgartner’s tenure with a pair of College Cup appearances in 2020 and 2021. They also captured three straight West Coast Conference regular season championships from 2020-2022.
  • The men’s basketball team posted six straight winning seasons, including back-to-back postseason appearances in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in 2021-22 and 2022-23. During the last five years, they have compiled 96 wins, which is the second-most wins in a five-year stretch in program history, and had three consecutive 20-win seasons for just the third time in program history (1968-70 and 1983-85). 
  • Men’s Basketball had a pair of first-round selections in the NBA Draft. Jalen Williams was picked 12th overall in 2022 by the Oklahoma City Thunder and Brandin Podziemski was selected 19th overall by the Golden State Warriors in 2023. Both players earned NBA All-Rookie First-Team honors in their respective debut seasons.
  • Men’s Soccer captured three WCC titles in 2015, 2021, and 2023.
  • Baseball captured the 2023 WCC Baseball Tournament title for their first conference title since 1997 and advanced to the NCAA Regional in Fayetteville, AR.
  • The volleyball, men’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf programs received invitations to participate in postseason competitions; men’s water polo reached the Western Water Polo Association semifinals for the first time since 2019; softball finished runner-up in the WCC in 2024 and tied the program record of 30 wins; Nicholas Russell qualified for the NCAA National Championships in cross country in both 2022 and 2023, while Zach Litoff qualified for the 2021 NCAA National Championship in track and field; the men’s rowing team has qualified for the IRA National Championships the past eight out of nine years.
  • Santa Clara Student-Athletes have continued to excel academically over the past few years. Earning degrees from 84 unique programs, the Broncos have tallied a cumulative 3.3 GPA and most recently posted a 97 percent graduation rate.
  • Ten programs earned public recognition awards from the NCAA for outstanding Academic Progress Rate (APR) for the 2018-2019 academic year, a Bronco record.
  • The construction of the $38 million Stephen C. and Patricia A. Schott Athletic Excellence Center, the soon-to-be-completed $2.5 million Wipfler Family Golf Facility, as well as major renovations to the Leavey Center, Schott Stadium, and Stevens Stadium.

Baumgartner came to Santa Clara University with 25 previous years of experience as a collegiate administrator and another 17 serving as either a coach or student-athlete.  She was previously Deputy Athletics Director/Chief of Staff at Syracuse University and Executive Senior Associate at the University of Oregon.


Baumgartner’s achievements at Santa Clara University have been nationally recognized.  

In spring of 2023, she was named one of the 28 recipients of the 2022-23 Cushman & Wakefield Athletics Director of the Year Award by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). This past October, she was appointed to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Her past service also has included seats on the Division I NCAA Council, the Council Coordination Committee, and the Chair of the Competition Oversight Committee.

Coaches Herb Sendek and Jerry Smith were quick to sing her praises.

“Renee’s dynamism, focus, and drive have defined the upward direction of Bronco athletics, and inspired our rise as a winning program,” said veteran men’s basketball coach Herb Sendek, who was hired by Baumgartner on March 29, 2016.  “Her commitment to excellence and to meeting the holistic needs of our student-athletes were a big part of my decision to take the helm of the men’s basketball program.  Our progress is a testament to her unwavering support.”

Jerry Smith, the legendary coach of the Santa Clara women’s soccer program, who is one of just three coaches in NCAA Division I history with more than 500 career wins, said: “Renee is a one-of-a-kind leader who inspires us to maintain the highest standards of excellence, year in and year out. Her energy, commitment, passion, and ability to connect with the wide variety of people associated with collegiate athletics is very unique. There is no replacing Renee, but she leaves us set up for a very bright future. I personally am grateful for all she has done for me, our players, and the program, and will never forget winning a National Championship together.” 

Next Steps

Sullivan said a national search for the next Athletic Director would be launched immediately.  She appointed Staci Gustafson, who joined Santa Clara University in 2007 and currently serves as Deputy Director of Athletics, to serve as Interim Athletic Director until the search is complete.  “I have every confidence in Staci to provide steady leadership through this transition,” said Sullivan, adding that more details about the search will be announced in the near future.  “For now, I want to thank Renee for her passion, dynamism, and service to Santa Clara University.  She will be missed.”  

About Santa Clara Athletics

With 20 intercollegiate sports, Santa Clara’s Division I teams have a history of excellence in the West Coast Conference and on the national stage, with student-athletes going on to become All-Americans, Olympians, World Cup Champions, and Hall of Famers. The Broncos have won three national championships and 64 West Coast Conference Championships. Bronco Student-Athletes compete in baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, beach volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s rowing, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field, and men’s and women’s water polo.

Media Contact
Matt Penland | Assoc. Athletic Director, Media Relations | | 408-554-4661

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