Since taking over as the Director of Athletics and Recreation on August 27, 2004, Dan Coonan has helped take the Broncos to new heights on the fields, in the classroom and in the community. For his efforts, he was named as one of the Bay Area's Top 25 Sports Power Players by the San Jose Mercury News in 2008.
Since he arrived at Santa Clara the Broncos have won two WCC Commissioner's Cups and finished as runner-up three times. This past year the Broncos finished third overall in the Commissioner's Cup race. They have won 12 WCC Championships, and teams or student-athletes from 10 different sports have advanced to post-season play at least once. All told, 25 Bronco teams have advanced to NCAA Tournaments - two reaching the Final Four, including volleyball in 2005 - the first time a West Coast Conference volleyball team achieved that milestone. Two more teams reached the national quarterfinals. The Broncos have had one National Player of the Year, 28 All-Americans and nine Conference Players of the Year. Five different programs have appeared at least once in the top 15 national rankings among Division I programs and 13 Bronco coaches have been named Coach of the Year and one was National Coach of the Year.
Academically, the Broncos have also been record-setting. The all student-athlete graduation rate for the most recent reporting period is a stunning 91%. Cross country captain Noelle Lopez was honored as the first-ever Santa Clara female Rhodes Scholar in 2009 and Tanya Schmidt was a Finalist in 2011. Additionally, women basketball’s Ashley Armstrong was the 2013 Santa Clara Valedictorian. Santa Clara's student-athletes have achieved a 3.0 GPA or better 22 of the last 23 quarters.
Coonan has challenged Bronco student-athletes to give back to their community. Community service is now a central theme of the mission of the Athletic Department, mirroring the mission of the University. Bronco teams frequently take immersion trips to some of the world's trouble spots to build homes or provide other assistance to the poor and underprivileged.
Coonan instituted The Bronco Sports Magazine - unveiled in 2005; and it is now produced three times a year to tell the story of Santa Clara Athletics, and to keep BBF donors all over the world connected to Bronco success on the fields, in the classroom and in the community.
Coonan has made school spirit and student spirit a priority - creating a student section that stretches from baseline to baseline across the entire west end of the arena bleachers. He encouraged Taylor Thorn and Andrew Dillingham in their successful efforts to bring back the pep band. The Ruff Rider (student support group) has almost 4,000 member. In 2012 Santa Clara added a 28 x 16 foot video board to the Leavey Center.
Coonan has been a staunch advocate for academic reform within the NCAA, and lobbied against a recent proposal to double the NCAA basketball tournament field, citing academic and Title IX concerns. He was appointed by WCC Commissioner Jamie Zaninnovich to lead the Conference’s sportsmanship efforts, and has served as Chair of the WCC’s Sportsmanship Committee since its inception.
In 2010 Coonan partnered with Santa Clara Law School and the Markuula Center for Applied Ethics to found Santa Clara’s Institute for Sports Law and Ethics, which puts on a very successful annual symposium attracting nationally-renown panelists each year to tackle the hottest topics in sports, law and ethics.
Coonan came to Santa Clara from Cal, where he oversaw all aspects of football, men's and women's basketball and volleyball. He also managed the department's strength and conditioning and sports medicine units as well as legal affairs and event management. He served as the department's primary television contact for football and basketball broadcasts, spearheaded a successful search for football coach Jeff Tedford and negotiated the institution's first multi-sport apparel and equipment contract with Nike.
Prior to Cal, Coonan worked at the Pac-10 Conference in Walnut Creek, Calif., where he managed the league's NCAA and conference rules enforcement program and oversaw the NCAA and conference governance and legislative process.
Prior to working for the Pac-10 Office, he had stints in the Athletics Departments at Cal, Central Connecticut State and Notre Dame.
A 1984 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Coonan received his law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles in 1987, where he earned a spot on the Law Review. In his final semester he clerked for Judge Cynthia Holcomb Hall on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth District. After passing the California Bar exam, Coonan practiced law in Los Angeles for eight years. In 1994, he served as the finance director for the United States congressional campaign of Corky Larson.
Coonan is the fifth director of athletics at Santa Clara since Pat Malley took over the reigns in 1965. Since that time, Tom O'Connor (1986-92), Carroll Williams (1992-2000) and Cheryl Levick (2000-2004) have served in that role on the Mission Campus. Coonan oversees all aspects of operating the department's 19 NCAA Division I intercollegiate sports as well as its recreation, intramural and club sports programs.
Coonan, a devoted father and husband, is married to the former Donna Kreter. The couple has three children, Claire, Tommy and Kevin. For the past several years Coonan and his daughter Claire have volunteered with InnVision,, a Bay Area non-profit organization serving the homeless. Coonan was added to the Board of Directors of InnVision in September of 2009, and was named Chairman of the Board in December of 2010. Recently he helped steer that organization through a merger with Shelter Network, and served as Co-Chair for the combined entity – InnVision Shelter Network - until 2013.