Pomona-Pitzer Athletic Director Lesley Irvine will leave Claremont at the end of the 2018-19 school year to become vice president of athletics and athletic director at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Pomona College announced at the end of January.
“Lesley wanted me to convey her deep gratitude for her time at Pomona and how much she has enjoyed being part of our community,” Pomona Dean of the College Audrey Bilger said in an email to the student body. “We all wish her continued success.”
Irvine arrived at P-P in the fall of 2015 after working for five years at Bowling Green State University — a NCAA Division I school — in multiple capacities, including senior associate athletic director. Prior to that, she was the head field hockey coach at Stanford University for nine years.
During her tenure, P-P cracked the top 30 in the Division III Directors Cup for the first time in 2017-18, an award based on success across NCAA championships, and also won its first men’s Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference All Sports Trophy, according to the P-P Athletics website. The 21 NCAA teams Irvine oversees have won 15 SCIAC championships over the past 3.5 years.
“Some of her most notable accomplishments are just an overall change in sportsmanship and energy around varsity athletics as well as health and wellness in general with Pomona College and Pomona-Pitzer Athletics,” P-P Senior Associate Athletic Director Angel Mason said.
Irvine herself is currently on family leave until next week after welcoming twins in January, she told TSL.
Irvine is also the chair of the Pomona physical education department, heads the SCIAC Athletic Administrators Committee and serves on the Division III National Women’s Basketball Committee, according to P-P. She was a founding board member of the Alliance of Women Coaches and has served on the NCAA Division I National Men’s Soccer and Division I National Field Hockey Committees.
Colorado College competes at the Division III level, except in men’s hockey and women’s soccer, which are Division I. The school is currently developing a new $39 million, 3,000-spectator stadium to house the hockey team in conjunction with the city of Colorado Springs.
The news of Irvine’s departure came less than a month after P-P revealed plans to begin construction on a new $55 million-gym in 2020, which will replace the 30-year-old Rains Center. She spearheaded that effort and has helped raise $20 million so far from two major donations, according to a Colorado College press release.
The next athletic director will have to pick up where Irvine leaves off in the new gym project.
“I know that the college has supported that, so there’s no going [backward] on Rains,” Mason said. “So I think that the campus can feel good about the fact that it’s going to continue to move forward.”
Both P-P and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps have undergone significant turnover in the athletic director position over the last three years. After starting at CMS in the fall of 2016, Athletic Director Terrance Tumey departed for the same position at Division I Fresno State last summer. Former longtime director Mike Sutton has filled the position in the interim as the school searches for Tumey’s permanent replacement.
“We’re not sure what the hiring process [to replace Irvine] is going to be yet,” Mason said. “We’ll take our direction from President [G. Gabrielle] Starr and Dean [Audrey] Bilger, who our department reports to,” Mason said.
This article was updated on February 7 to include quotes from Angel Mason.