Mark Orr became the 18th Director of Athletics at Sacramento State on March 27, 2017.
A native of Sacramento, Orr was the Director of Athletics and Recreation at Saint Mary’s from March 28, 2006 until taking the position at Sacramento State. With the Gaels, he has overseen 17 intercollegiate athletics programs as well as the college’s recreational sports programs. In total, he has supervised a staff of 110 employees and 360 student-athletes, and has managed a budget of more than $17 million.
Under Orr’s leadership, Saint Mary’s teams have qualified 17 times for the NCAA postseason, including the men’s basketball team advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2010, men’s soccer advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals in 2011, and the men’s golf team’s qualification to the NCAA Championships in 2008 and 2013. Seven programs have won conference titles during Orr’s tenure, and Saint Mary’s annually ranks among the leaders in the West Coast Conference Commissioner’s Cup, including a second-place finish a year ago.
“We had an outstanding group of finalists in our search for a new Director of Athletics – people wanted to join our Hornet Family,” President Nelsen said. “We are thrilled to welcome Mark Orr and his family back to Sacramento where they belong. His experiences on the football field at Christian Brothers and Cal, plus his experience as a successful, established Director of Athletics at Saint Mary’s, make him the perfect candidate to lead the Hornets to preeminence in the Big Sky Conference and the nation.”
“I am honored to serve the University as its Director of Athletics and look forward to partnering with President Nelsen, the tremendous coaching and support staff, and the entire Sacramento State family to ensure that Hornet student-athletes continue to have success on the field of competition, in the classroom, and in the Sacramento community,” Orr said.
Saint Mary’s has become one of the top basketball programs in the West over the past 10 years, earning five NCAA Tournament and five NIT appearances. The Gaels have the highest winning percentage and the third-most NCAA Tournament appearances in the state of California in the past decade. The team has won or shared three of the past six WCC titles and recently advanced to the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
The baseball team earned its first-ever bid to the NCAA Baseball Tournament in 2016 after winning the WCC Tournament. The team went on to have three players selected in the first 10 rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft.
Other intercollegiate athletics teams to win conference titles during Orr’s watch include men’s soccer, men’s golf, volleyball, softball, and women’s tennis.
Orr also has overseen the Saint Mary’s club sports program. The men’s rugby team won the USA Rugby D1A title in 2014 with a 21-6 victory over Life University.
Saint Mary’s recorded a 93 percent Graduation Success Rate in 2015-16, the second-highest among all institutions in California.
The college had 45 student-athletes earn West Coast Conference all-academic honors a year ago.
Volleyball has posted a perfect 1000 APR score the past four years and has earned NCAA recognition each season for ranking among the top 10 percent in its sport. Since the program began, the Gaels’ women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s tennis, men’s cross country, men’s and women’s track and field, and volleyball programs have each been honored by the NCAA.
Orr has overseen numerous facility improvement projects at Saint Mary’s, including $2 million in renovations to McKeon Pavilion, Saint Mary’s Stadium, Madigan Gym, the Timothy Korth Tennis Complex, and Louis Gusto Field. He also played a pivotal role in the creation of the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center – a $40 million project that covers 60,000 square feet and includes a new baseball stadium and additional capital enhancements.
Orr also spearheaded McKeon Pavilion renovations that include chair back seating behind the team benches, reconditioning of the VIP section, and the installation of a new sound system. McKeon also received new locker rooms and offices for men’s and women’s basketball along with volleyball. The stadium field was replaced with a new bermuda playing surface, the upstairs bleachers in Madigan Gym were converted into a cardiovascular fitness area, and the Timothy Korth Tennis Complex was altered to make watching events more spectator-friendly. Also, a new Student-Athlete Academic Center was added to Madigan Gym. The Pat Vincent Rugby Field welcomed a new surface as well.
Under Orr, Saint Mary’s has increased athletics revenue by 150 percent in the past five years. This includes negotiating a contract with IMG College that raised corporate sponsorships. Also under his watch have been increases in ticket sales and annual, endowed, and capital giving.
He led the development of a new athletics branding effort, highlighted by the launch of a new logo in summer 2007 and Saint Mary’s first licensing and royalty contract.
Orr was instrumental in working out the largest television agreement in school history with Comcast Sports Net.
Orr chaired the WCC Executive Council, the Athletic Directors’ Council and Basketball Cabinet, and served as president of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference. Through 2015, he served as the chairperson for the NCAA’s prestigious Amateurism Cabinet.
Prior to his appointment as Director of Athletics and Recreation, Orr served for two years as the Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Finance and Internal Affairs at Saint Mary’s. He ran most of the day-to-day activities, which included coordinating the internal administrative affairs for the department, facilitating the Men’s and Women’s Tennis Fund Raising Association, coordinating all departmental travel, negotiating department guarantees, preparing department contracts, and assisting with the development of the Strategic Plan for the Department of Athletics and Recreation.
During his tenure at Saint Mary’s, Orr has handled almost every facet of the Department of Athletics. In addition to the management of the department’s budget, he has served as the lead sport administrator for football, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s tennis. Additionally, he was responsible for compliance, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and ticket operations. In February 2003, Orr assumed the position of Associate Director of Athletics for Business and Finance before being promoted in October 2004 to Senior Associate Director of Athletics.
Orr came to Saint Mary’s College on Aug. 4, 2000, as the Assistant Director of Athletics for Student Support Services, responsible for overseeing eligibility for student-athletes, overseeing the Champs Life Skills program, and assisting with compliance.
He came to SMC from the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as the Compliance Assistant and the Interim Eligibility Assistant in 1999-2000. He also served as a peer advisor and senior tutor for two years, and was a teaching assistant and graduate student instructor that same year. Orr completed his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in social welfare in 1999 and earned his master’s degree in education in 2000.
Orr graduated from Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento in 1994. He earned a scholarship to play football at Cal, where he played from 1994 to 1998. A four-year letterman defensive back on the California football team, Orr was an honorable mention all-academic Pac-10 selection in 1997 and 1998. He was awarded the Pappy Waldorf Honorary Scholarship for Academic Excellence in 1998 and received the Tiny Bates Memorial Award for Leadership in 1998.
Orr and his wife, April, have two children, Tyson Mark and Jacob William.