Facing crossroads, Fresno State assembles panel to chart future for athletics programs

Conference realignment has delivered chaos to college sports. Will a commission help Fresno State weather the storm?

Conference realignment, an aging Bulldog Stadium and a sales tax measure to fund needed stadium renovations are just some of the issues at hand for Fresno State Athletics. 

University President Saul Jimenez-Sandoval and Athletic Director Terry Tumey are tasked with those issues, as well as the general well-being of Fresno State’s 400-plus student-athletes.


But a select group of people who have not previously been made public will also have a say in Fresno State’s athletic future. 

According to documents obtained by The Sun, Jimenez-Sandoval created the President’s Commission for the future of Fresno State Athletics. 

The task force began its work in May and is expected to complete its work by September. 

Fresno State alumnus and donor Mark Shuster – the founder and managing director of Shuster Financial Group in Pasadena – has been appointed as the chairman. 

Tumey is also on board providing administrative support. 

According to the president’s charge, the commission will recommend a blueprint for sustaining competitive athletic success, recommend goals and expectations that will sustain and invest responsibly in the success of the student-athletes and athletic programs and develop a multi-year plan to be integrated into the university’s Five-Year Strategic Plan from 2022-2027. 

The Five-Year Strategic Plan is the university’s assessment of its highest priorities and it determines the goals and strategies to steer the university over the next five years. 

The president’s athletics commission will specifically focus on the following four areas: 

  1. Infrastructure: Recommend a priority list of facility modernization/capital investment and new facilities, with a projected ideal date of initiation and completion. 
  2. Revenue generation: Understand the current revenue model that supports the annual operating budget, identify ways to ensure long-term financial sustainability through fundraising and other strategies, and identify ways to stabilize and grow the Athletics budget, in order to strategize and plan for the future. 
  3. Student-athlete experience: Enhance and elevate the student-athlete experience that will make Fresno State the “preferred campus of choice,” while ensuring equity within our athletic community. 
  4. Marketability: Build on the unique identification of our Bulldog brand and the importance of our reputation for being the “Pride of the Valley.” 

Notably, the president’s charge does not specifically mention Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools. 

Fresno State has an infamous history with Title IX, resulting in nearly $16 million in payments to former coaches Lindy Vivas and Stacy Johnson-Klein and former administrator Diane Milutinovich. 

The commission has not been discussed publicly, and there has not been any information about it published by the university on its website. 

The commission includes popular figures within Fresno State’s athletics history such as former head football coach Pat Hill and former quarterback Kevin Sweeney. 

The members of the task force is as follows: 

Community Appointees

Jose Elgorriaga

Harry Gaykian

Eric Hanson

Pat Hill

Jamal Jones

Omel Nieves

Vinci Ricchiuti

Rob Saroyan

Annie Shultz

Mark Shuster

Bill Smittcamp

Kevin Sweeney

Jeff Thiesen

Julie Tone

Bill Woolman

Janee Young

Campus Appointees 

Alysa Garaygordobil, Athletics Senator

D’Aungillique Jackson, ASI President

Dawn Lewis, faculty

Victor Torres, Faculty Athletic Representative

Terry Tumey, Athletic Director

The Sun reached out to Fresno State for comment regarding the purpose and makeup of the commission, but the university did not respond by publication. 

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