College Sports

Stavrianoudakis takes over as Modesto Junior College interrim athletic director

Members of the Stavrianoudakis family have graced Modesto Junior College athletic teams for at least 60 years.

A member of that family now has reached the top of the Pirates’ sports administration.

Nick Stavrianoudakis, whose father, Strat, played football for MJC in 1942 and a nephew – also named Strat – ran the hurdles for the Pirates last spring, will lead the school’s 21-team program as interim athletic director.

“My definition of success in this position would be that MJC student-athletes receive the best possible experience, that coaches and staff receive more than sufficient resources and the community receive maximum benefits of what MJC athletics has to offer,” Stavrianoudakis said. “Our students should always be our No. 1 concern.”

Stavrianoudakis, 49, takes over at MJC after serving as public affairs director for the Yosemite Community College District for more than 13 years.

He succeeds Bill Kaiser, 64, who retired after a 14-year tenure at MJC and a 42-year career in education that included stints as athletic director at Seattle University and Potsdam State.

Three years ago, the former soccer player at West Virginia was instrumental in staving off a serious cutback in MJC athletics. Coaches and instructors temporarily dropped their stipends during the college’s fiscal crisis. Wrestling, golf and tennis were believed to be spared.

“We kept strong. I came in with 21 sports and left with 21,” Kaiser said. “I’m very proud of the work ethic and integrity our coaches have showed over the years.”

Kaiser worked as MJC’s athletic director and dean of physical recreational and health education. Under the new arrangement, Stavrianoudakis assumes the position as AD while English instructor Patrick Bettencourt takes over as interim dean. MJC President Jill Stearns will evaluate their progress after the end of the academic year.

Stavrianoudakis’ new challenge surprised some observers because he’s never been an athlete or a coach. The Turlock resident graduated from Turlock High and received a master of science degree with a concentration in sports management from the University of Illinois. He also received a master of arts degree in economics from the University of Colorado and a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Cal State Stanislaus.

“He has a passion for MJC athletics,” Stearns said. “I’m looking forward to his working toward a greater awareness of sports on campus and in the community. What really stood out to me is that he won’t have a single-sport focus. He likes all types of athletics.”

Besides his day-to-day duties to guide the department, Stavrianoudakis also is expected to step up marketing and promotions. It could be a good fit. He’s received credit in recent years for his contributions with the MJC Basketball Tournament and the school’s Hall of Fame.

Also on his laundry list are upgrades to the MJC sports website and much needed repairs to facilities, including MJC Stadium. Stearns hinted at the formation of an MJC Foundation.

“I feel like I’ve been preparing for this job since I was 5,” Stavrianoudakis said. “We have lofty plans, but we might have to take small steps, or even go backwards a few steps. But the goal is to eventually get there.”