Park University Athletics Director Claude English Announces Retirement
July 20, 2021 — Longtime Park University director of athletics Claude English has announced that he will retire, effective Friday, Aug. 13.
English began his affiliation with Park in 1992, serving as the men’s basketball head coach through the end of the 2004-05 season. In January 1996, English added the title of athletics director, a role that he has held for the past 25½ years.
The University’s athletics programs have received numerous national accolades during English’s helm, including seven NAIA national volleyball championships (five men’s and two women’s), 79 conference championships between the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference, American Midwest Conference and Heart of America Athletic Conference, 170 NAIA All-Americans, 428 NAIA Scholar-Athletes and a 17-time NAIA Champions of Character awardee.
During his tenure as director of athletics, English guided the University’s addition of four sports programs, men’s baseball and golf, and women’s beach volleyball and golf. In 2017, the University added seven developmental (junior varsity) athletics programs, and in 2019, Park became the first institution in the Kansas City area to add an esports program.
As head coach of the men’s basketball program, English compiled the second-most victories (182 in 13 seasons) in Park University history, surpassed only by current head coach Jason Kline. English was honored as the AMC Coach of the Year twice, following the 1995-96 and 1997-98 seasons, the latter of which he led the Pirates to the NAIA Division I national semifinals, ending the year with a 27-8 record. Following the tournament, the team was recognized with the Dr. James Naismith / Emil S. Liston Sportsmanship Award and English received the Charles A Krigel Award for coaching sportsmanship.
After a stellar playing career at the University of Rhode Island, English was a seventh round pick in the 1970 NBA draft and spent one season (1970-71) playing with the Portland Trail Blazers. In addition, he played in the Eastern Basketball Association with the Hartford Capitals, an affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers, winning an EBA championship in 1974.
At URI, English was a two-time All-Yankee Conference first team (1968-69 and 1969-70), and served as a team captain those two years. He averaged 12.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game over those two seasons. In addition, he was a one-year letter-winner in track in 1969.
Following his season with the Trail Blazers, English returned to his alma mater, serving as an assistant coach on the men’s basketball team from 1971-80. At the start of the 1980-81 season, when then URI head coach Jack Kraft became ill, English was appointed head coach, leading the squad to a 21-8 record, the Atlantic-10 regular-season title and a bid to the National Invitational Tournament. English also earned A-10 Coach of the Year honors. In four seasons with URI, English compiled a 45-66 record.
During his illustrious career, English was recognized with the following honors:
• Inducted into the McLendon Minority Athletics Administrators Hall of Fame by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, 2010
• Inducted into the Chattahoochee Valley (Ala./Ga.) Sports Hall of Fame, 2011
• Inducted into the Park University Athletics Wall of Honor, 2015 (inaugural class)
• Inducted into the Legends Hall of Fame for the Mother Mary Mission, Phenix City, Ala., 2020
English was also a standout athlete at South Girard High School in Phenix City where he shined in three sports — basketball, football and track. He was a four-year starter for the basketball team, as well as a three-year letterman in football and track. English finished his high school basketball career as South Girard’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder after leading the Bulldogs to a state title in 1966 as the Most Outstanding Player in the state tournament.
The University will conduct a national search to replace English. In the interim, Jayme Uden, Ed.D., associate vice president and dean of students, will serve as acting director of athletics. Jason Kline, men’s basketball head coach, and Mike Talamantes, director of volleyball, and men’s and women’s volleyball head coach, both of whom serve as an assistant athletic director, will provide support to Uden.
A ceremony to honor English is expected to be held on the University’s Parkville Campus sometime this fall.
For more information about English, visit parkathletics.com/staff/1.