Trenbeath to Retire as Athletic Director

Bill Trenbeath, Willamette University's athletic director for the past 11 years, announced on Friday that he's retiring from the position. Trenbeath, 59, will remain on staff until the University completes its search for his successor.

Trenbeath's tenure as athletic director, begun in the fall of 1988, will probably be best remembered for hiring a quality coaching staff and major athletic facility improvements. In those 11 years, Willamette has built Roy S. "Spec" Keene Stadium for baseball (1988), renovated Charles E. McCulloch Stadium (1993) for football and track, constructed an addition to the Lestle J. Sparks Center (1996), and built a new softball field and facility (1999), which has yet to be named.

"Under Bill's strong leadership, the University has seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of the athletic facilities as well as increased success in nearly all of our intercollegiate programs," said Willamette President Lee Pelton. "We will miss greatly his knowledge, enthusiasm and steadfast compassion for students."

Of the many athletic highlights since 1988, the most prominent would have to be the 1993 NAIA Division II Men's Basketball Championship won in Nampa, Idaho; the school's first national title in a varsity sport. The 1997 football team nearly won a national crown under head coach Dan Hawkins, who was hired by Trenbeath. That team won 13 straight games before losing in the NAIA National Championship game to Findlay (Ohio), 14-7.

Trenbeath first came to Willamette in August of 1973 as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and assistant professor of physical education. In 13 baseball seasons, he coached the Bearcats to three Northwest Conference crowns and five NAIA District II playoff appearances. In his final campaign in 1986, Trenbeath was named NAIA District II Coach of the Year after Willamette won its first-ever District II title.

In the two years between coaching and becoming AD, Trenbeath was Willamette's director of annual funds. That position also allowed him to raise funds for the baseball stadium, which was constructed largely with volunteer community assistance.

A native of North Dakota, Trenbeath came to the Northwest to attend Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash. He played second base on the 1960 Pirate baseball team that claimed the NAIA National Championship. He graduated from Whitworth in 1963 and began his teaching and coaching career that year at Meridian Junior High School in Kent, Wash. He obtained his master's degree from the University of North Dakota in 1967.

His teaching and coaching career also took him to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, Horlick High School in Racine, Wis., Banning High School in Banning, Calif., Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and Oregon State University in Corvallis.