Sacramento State President Robert S. Nelsen has announced the appointment of former Hornets head football coach John Volek to serve as the Interim Director of Athletics, effective Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017.
Volek, who led Sacramento State football from 1995 to 2002 and recently retired as the dean of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Athletics at Sierra College, has agreed to serve in the position until a permanent replacement has been appointed. President Nelsen will be naming a search committee whose membership will include campus representatives as well as Sacramento regional business and community leaders. The hiring process is expected to be complete by March.
“Our commitment to student success at Sacramento State is unwavering, and that commitment includes a resolve to elevate our Division I athletics programs and achieve excellence across the board, both inside and outside the classroom,” President Nelsen said. “The search will be national as we seek to build on our past successes and position our student-athletes to compete and succeed at the NCAA Division I level. In this effort, I am pleased that a stellar member of our Hornet Family, Coach Volek, has agreed to oversee our 21 Division I athletics teams in the interim period.”
Volek has deep ties to the region’s coaching fraternity. A graduate of Placer High School, he was recruited to play football at Sierra College from 1965 to 1967. He went on to earn a master’s degree in education in 1972 from the University of California, Riverside. He enjoyed a long football coaching career, with head coaching stints at Walla Walla Community College in Washington state in the mid-1980s, then at Fresno City College, before taking the head football coaching position for the Hornets in 1995. In 2003, he returned to Sierra College to become the dean of athletics. He has been inducted into the athletic halls of fame at Sierra College and Walla Walla.
“I am honored to accept President Nelsen’s charge and help Sac State embark on a new era in athletics,” Volek said. “Sac State is Sacramento’s university, and I know firsthand how a successful athletics program enriches student campus life and generates pride among alumni and other supporters.”
Nelsen thanked Bill Macriss for his leadership as Sacramento State’s Director of Athletics for the past two and a half years, noting that Macriss will continue to serve on the athletics executive leadership team as the Executive Associate Athletics Director for Operations and Facilities. During his tenure as AD, Macriss has focused on upgrading Sac State’s athletic facilities. Recent improvements include resurfacing the baseball and softball fields, installing lights for the baseball stadium, upgrading locker rooms, and adding a new football scoreboard. Macriss will continue to focus on enhancing facilities and streamlining operations in his new role.
“Few members of the Hornet Family have demonstrated the passion and engagement that Bill has shown during his 20 years of service in the Sacramento State Athletics Department,” President Nelsen said of Macriss, who previously served as Deputy Director of Athletics from 2007 to 2014. “I am proud of what Bill has achieved, and I look forward to working with him in his continued role in Hornet Athletics.”
In the classroom, the Hornets have achieved their highest grades in school history, with four semesters in a row of a combined GPA of over 3.0. In 2015-16, 173 Hornet athletes earned academic all-conference honors.
Moreover, in the 2014-15 season, the women’s and men’s basketball programs achieved a combined total of victories that was the highest in the school’s NCAA Division I history. And in 2015-16, Sacramento State won the Big Sky Conference Women’s All-Sports Trophy for the second straight year.
In the community, Hornet Athletics worked with Advancement to generate just over $1 million in a grass-roots fundraising campaign, Power of 1,000 Hornets, for a new Event Center. “While fundraising has shown improvement in the past two and a half years, we need to ramp up our community support and create transformational change if we are going to truly elevate the athletics program,” Nelsen said.
Of Sacramento State’s 21 intercollegiate athletic teams, 16 compete in the Big Sky Conference: football; women’s and men’s basketball; women’s and men’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field; volleyball; softball; women’s and men’s golf; women’s and men’s tennis; and women’s soccer. The beach volleyball and men’s soccer teams compete in the Big West Conference, baseball competes in the Western Athletic Conference, gymnastics is a member of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, and rowing competes in the American Athletic Conference.