More than just the end of the year, that date will mark the end of an era in 2010.
After building one of the most successful NCAA Division II athletics programs in history and leading the California State University, Bakersfield athletics program to active Division I status this year, Rudy Carvajal will walk into the sunset, retiring as in essence the only athletic director in CSUB history on New Year's Eve.
He will continue to serve as athletic director through the end of the calendar year. A national search for his replacement will begin immediately.
"Rudy Carvajal has had a long record of significant achievement as an NCAA Division II athletics director," says CSUB President Dr. Horace Mitchell. "The awards and recognitions mentioned elsewhere in this press release attest to that. Throughout his career he has shown a strong commitment to the success of our student-athletes not only in their sport, but also, in the classroom and in their preparation for life. When we made the decision to move to NCAA Division I, he embraced that vision as the next level of excellence for Athletics.
"Rudy first mentioned to me the idea of retirement more than a year ago," Mitchell continues. "I encouraged him to stay on at least through the reclassification process because he deserved to be the CSUB athletics director when we become an active Division I member. He can now retire with a genuine sense of satisfaction for a job well done."
"I have been blessed and fortunate to be a part of something very special," says Carvajal. "Few people in their lifetime have an opportunity to build an athletics program from scratch, let alone to develop it through many challenges and transitions to NCAA Division I status.
"What we've accomplished could not have happened without a lot of support. I cannot give enough thanks to the CSUB administration and faculty, the greater Bakersfield community and especially the dedicated and exceptional student-athletes, coaches and staff for their commitment to excellence.
"Our new theme, 'It Starts Now,' is symbolic not as the end of a dream, but as the beginning of many new dreams," he continues. "I've seen so many dreams come true over the last four decades and I'm confident that the leadership within the University, and those who will join the University, will provide the stimulus for exciting growth, development and competitive success."
Carvajal came to CSUB, then California State College, Bakersfield, in 1972, to build an athletics program. But even with his vision and unflagging efforts, little could he know that the etude he played on the then fledgling campus would prove but an overture to a symphony of academic and athletic achievement that has lasted more than 40 years. Through nearly five decades as an educator and administrator, Carvajal has built a legacy of success that has impacted thousands of young lives while helping to weave the identity of CSUB into the fabric of the Kern County consciousness.
By any yardstick, Carvajal has built an enviable legacy at CSUB. Quiet and unassuming by nature, he has never been one to tout his personal accomplishments. The measure of his success comes not from what he says, however, but rather from the rich heritage of the program he built from the ground floor and from the student-athletes whose achievements have been celebrated across the nation since 1972.
The most visible aspect of Carvajal's success at CSUB has come on the fields of competition, where he built the nation's premier small college athletics program. CSUB's 30 national championships in seven different sports were unprecedented during the University's tenure as an NCAA Division II member. Add in 241 individual national champions and more than 1,100 All-Americans and the numbers become legendary.
Ask Carvajal what his biggest accomplishments have been, however, and the conversation spins in an entirely different direction. Although he places tremendous emphasis on providing a platform for athletic excellence, he knows, however, that physical accomplishment is but one component of the entire educational structure. The foundation of his program provides the fertile soil necessary to achieve academic excellence. It also offers the opportunity for the young men and women in his charge to pay back-both to the University and to the community-through a variety of community service projects. He has, in effect, created a circle in which he fosters community support for a program which, in turn, supports its community. Although Carvajal did not coin the phrase, "win-win scenario," the philosophy on which he built the California State University, Bakersfield Intercollegiate Athletics program has truly defined it.
While the program he created has garnered more than its share of honors and awards, Carvajal's personal efforts have not gone unnoticed. He has won some of the highest accolades his community and his profession can bestow on an individual. In 2003, for example, he earned the prestigious Kern County Board of Supervisors Award for exemplary public service and civic contributions to the community of Kern County.
In 2000, Rudy was elected to the prestigious local Bob Elias Hall of Fame, enshrined among the top sports figures in Kern County history. He earned that honor less than one year after being named the NCAA Division II National Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA). He is, to date, the only Division II athletic director to be so honored.
The litmus test of a successful athletics program is found in its winning seasons. It is the most quantifiable and identifiable method of comparing one program against another. By that yardstick, nothing compares to the program Carvajal founded at CSUB. Whether calculated by team titles or individual champions, Roadrunner Athletics has become the standard by which other programs are measured.
Though CSUB's success has been legendary in the local area, 'Runner Athletics received its due recognition on the national level in 1998 by winning the Sears Directors' Cup. The handcrafted Waterford Crystal trophy-valued at more than $20,000-is awarded annually to the nation's premier overall athletic program. In 1998 CSUB became the first (and, to date, only) member of the California State University system to receive the honor. In addition, in 2004, CSUB was named the NCAA Division II "Team of the Decade" as the top overall program in the 10-year history of the Director's Cup program.
During its relatively brief history, CSUB's achievements have been unparalleled on the national level. In fact, Roadrunner teams collected 30 national championships between 1976 and 2006, its last season of postseason eligibility prior to making the jump to Division I. Furthermore, CSUB boasts 241 NCAA individual national champions over that time frame.
The men's swimming team added the final NCAA Division II Championship to the 'Runner trophy case, capturing the title in 2004. It was their record 13th NCAA swimming championship. The men's basketball (3) and wrestling (8) teams have combined for 11 national titles since 1976. And the wrestlers likely would have won several more if they had not moved up to NCAA Division I in 1988. Also capturing NCAA championships for CSUB have been men's soccer (1997), softball (1988-89-90) and women's volleyball (1989).
As of June 2010, 'Runners athletes had captured 241 individual national championships (including 11 NCAA Division I titles in wrestling) and more than 1,100 All-America awards. CSUB Athletics has produced eight Olympians. Most recently, two-time undefeated NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion Stephen Neal went on to capture the World Freestyle, USA Freestyle and the Pan American Games gold medals. He is now starting at offensive guard in the NFL with the New England Patriots and has three Super Bowl rings to his credit.
Far too often, the headlines regarding intercollegiate athletics scream about sacrificing academic integrity at the altar of athletics success. In that atmosphere, the CSUB athletics program has been a breath of fresh air. Under Carvajal's stewardship, Roadrunners student-athletes have been just that-students who are also athletes.
If you are a student-athlete at CSUB, you will have a higher grade point average, be more likely to graduate, and graduate faster than members of the general student population. For its efforts in the classroom, the CSUB Athletics program won an NCAA?Academic Achievement award in 2003.
The aggregate success of the CSUB Athletics program is the sum of tremendous individual achievement in the classroom. Roadrunner student-athletes annually have won top academic honors, including NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and prestigious Academic All-America® honors. Putting action to his ideals, Carvajal has served on the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship committee and the NACDA John McClendon Minority Postgraduate Scholarship Committee.
Much of the success of the CSUB athletics program can be traced back to the strong coalition of community support that Carvajal has generated during his tenure. Just as Kern County has embraced the Roadrunners, CSUB's student-athletes, coaches and staff have embraced the opportunity to give back to the community.
Through several on-going programs, as well as myriad individual efforts, CSUB Athletics remains a strong and vibrant voice for education and service in the community. Perhaps CSUB's best known program is "Rowdy About Reading" (named for Rowdy, the CSUB mascot). The program sends CSUB student-athletes to area schools where they mentor a four-month program that integrates the values of teamwork and competition with reading at the classroom level. The program reaches more than 4,000 students annually in the greater Bakersfield area and was a finalist for the Beautiful Bakersfield Award in 2004.
Although Rowdy About Reading has generated the most regional and national exposure for CSUB Athletics' community service efforts, it is far from the only program helping the Kern County community. The CSUB men's basketball team, for example, initiated a "Giving Back to Bakersfield" program six years ago. Roadrunner men's basketball student-athletes donate more than 200 hours annually to groups such as local schools and the Boys & Girls Clubs.
In addition to the men's basketball program, the Roadrunner swim teams teach hundreds of mentally and physically challenged children to swim as part of the CSUB Learn To Swim Program. The CSUB Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) took over the annual campus blood drive in 2003. Working with the Houchin Blood Bank, the Roadrunner SAAC has set records for participation and units collected.
In addition to the efforts of the CSUB Athletic program, Carvajal has often been recognized for his individual work in the community. He earned the Kern County Board of Supervisors Award for exemplary public service in 2003, for instance, and the Appreciation Award from New Advances for People with Disabilities in 1999, among others.
For more information:Kevin Gilmore, SID
Media ContactColleen Dillaway, Director of Public Affairs & Communications