Within weeks, Sacramento State will have an athletic director opening as Terry Wanless bows into retirement.
His replacement will be the program’s most significant hire, one that could help vault the sleeping-giant Hornets into an era of prominence. The new AD’s first task will be finding a new football coach to navigate through a Big Sky Conference ripe for the taking. Here are four candidates worthy of a call as the next AD:
• Mark Massari: The athletic director at UC Santa Barbara since 2008, Massari is a Sac State graduate who played on the school’s last playoff football team, in 1988. The Gauchos have enjoyed athletic success across the board under Massari, though the school hasn’t fielded football since 1992. Massari was the senior associate AD for external affairs at Oregon State, a run that included six bowl games. Massari secured the Kings’ training camp last fall on his campus.
• Mark Orr: A Christian Brothers High School graduate who played football at Cal on scholarship, Orr has been the AD at Saint Mary’s since 2006. He was paramount to athletic facility upgrades. Though the Gales dropped football in 2004, men’s basketball has had national success, including reaching the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 in 2010.
• John Volek: A Placer graduate, Volek used energy, compassion and sheer will to make Sac State’s football program prominent after it nearly folded. He coached the Hornets to their last conference title, in 1995. An expert people person, Volek elevated Sierra College into a national program as AD, earning myriad honors before retiring in 2011.
• Greg Warzecka: The athletic director at American River College, Warzecka served as the AD at UC Davis from 1995 to 2011, supervising the transition from Division II to Division I. ARC has emerged as the regional power in football under Warzecka, who once coached baseball at San Francisco State.
Carda is tops in Pacific-12 – UCLA utility Ally Carda (Pleasant Grove) was named the Pacific-12 Conference Softball Player of the Year. The junior helped the Bruins advance to an NCAA Super Regional, in which they lost to Kentucky on Sunday. The USA Softball Player of the Year finalist hit .394 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs. As a pitcher, she was 32-5 with a 1.90 ERA.
Davis produces – Former Bee Player of the Year J.D. Davis (Elk Grove) eclipsed the 100-RBI mark for his career at Cal State Fullerton. The junior leads the Titans with a .338 average to go with five home runs and 38 RBIs. Fullerton advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 36th time and opens against Nebraska on Friday in Stillwater, Okla.
Hayes moves – Matt Hayes (Pleasant Grove) signed a basketball letter of intent with Loyola Marymount. After leading Pleasant Grove to the 2013 CIF State Division I championship, the guard helped Santa Rosa win the state community college title this season, averaging 16.2 points.
Rodrigues goes to the surf – Quarterback Jake Rodrigues (Whitney) has transferred from Oregon to San Diego State. A national recruit in high school, Rodrigues expected to be at least the backup quarterback by this time and switched schools after spring drills. He will sit out the 2014 season, per D-I transfer policy.
Bellotti to enter Hall – From humble playing and coaching beginnings at UC Davis to national fame at Oregon, Mike Bellotti will be inducted Dec. 9 into the College Football Hall of Fame, as announced by the National Football Foundation. Bellotti had coaching stints at UCD, Cal State Hayward and Chico State and enjoyed his best run at Oregon, going 116-55 in 14 seasons. Bellotti last week threw out the first pitch – a strike – at a Ducks game.
Mason, Porter deliver – Sophomore Ryan Mason (Placer) led Cal’s pitching staff with a 7-1 record this season, followed by senior Kyle Porter (Oak Ridge), who was 6-5.
Stahl takes state title – ARC runner Logan Stahl (Roseville) won the state 800-meter championship as the Beavers placed second in the men’s standings in Walnut.
Stahl won in a lifetime best of 1 minute, 51.95 seconds, and teammate David French (Nevada Union) was third in 1:52.33. They joined Ben Boone (Center) and Robert Ellis (Antelope) on ARC’s 4x400 relay team, which finished third in 3:11.46.
Also for the Beavers, Will Reyes (Monterey Trail) had second-place finishes in the 5,000 in 14:44.14 and 10,000 in 32:16.15, and Chris Kigar (El Camino) was second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 9:19.54.
Follow The Bee’s Joe Davidson on Twitter at @SacBee_JoeD.