Kirby Garry brings changes to CSUMB athletics program


Since becoming director of athletics at Cal State Monterey Bay last November, Kirby Garry has already succeeded in shining a national spotlight on the university. He’s also quickly establishing Otter Athletics as a national leader in social media marketing, while maintaining its commitment to academic achievement.

Garry began his term as interim director of athletics July 8, replacing Vince Otoupal, who left to become director of athletics at NCAA Division I member Utah Valley University. CSUMB Vice President for Student Affairs Ronnie Higgs made the appointment permanent on Nov. 5.

Garry joined the Otter Athletics team in 2008 as assistant athletics director of external operations. His areas of oversight have included all aspects of athletics communications, corporate partnerships, development and marketing.

Garry graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in social science from the University of North Dakota and earned his master’s in athletics administration from the University of South Dakota.

Arriving at CSUMB with strong experience as an administrator, coach and student–athlete, Garry served in athletics administration roles at both Washington State University and Idaho State University after four years as an assistant football coach at USD.

“We talk a lot about making the big-time where you are, and for us, big-time starts in the classroom,” Garry said. “More than 60 percent of our student–athletes carry a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 or greater. By percentage, we have more students win conference academic honors from the California Collegiate Athletic Association than any other institution.”

The Otters also have hung more than their share of championship banners around campus.

“Despite being the youngest institution — not athletic program, institution — in all of NCAA Division II sports,” he said, “we already have won an NCAA national title [men’s golf in 2011] and have 14 CCAA titles in seven years as a conference member.”

Those successes helped bring another honor to CSUMB when the Otter women’s basketball team hosted Cal State San Bernardino in a Feb. 15 game broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. It’s not often that a small school gets to host a live, nationally televised game on a major sports network.

Garry was instrumental in making that happen, working behind the scenes with NCAA leadership to help CSUMB earn a spot as one of eight Division II basketball programs to host a game on CBS this year. In fact, it was Garry’s status as a national leader in NCAA social media development that led to the game being designated the Division II Social Media Game of the Year.

The NCAA sent a production crew to document CSUMB’s uses of social media for a “best practices” piece to be presented at the national convention.

“We’re always looking for ways to gain a little ground or to separate ourselves,” he said. “Social media offers us a free platform with multiple ways of doing that. We stood out enough that the NCAA decided to shine a spotlight here.” MB


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Photos by Vernon McKnight

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