U of A

Shields, 29, youngest of 14 coaches hired by Byrne at Mississippi State and Arizona




Age is at time of hire

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Greg Byrne has made 11 hires in his six years as Arizona’s athletic director — including four hires in the last year — with the addition today of Clancy Shields as the men’s tennis coach.

At 29 years and 46 days at the time of his hire, Shields is the youngest head coach Byrne has hired. Arizona gymnastics coach Tabitha Yim was 29 years and 199 days old when she was hired on May 10, 2015.

Shields, who turned 29 on April 4, replaces Tad Berkowitz, who resigned in April after 12 seasons as Arizona’s coach. Shields, a former Boise State standout, was selected the Mountain West Coach of the Year earlier this month after coaching Utah State to its first Mountain West title in any sport.

He helped coached sophomore Jaime Barajas to Mountain West Player of the Year honors.

Shields, who was born in Prescott but resided mostly in Colorado growing up, has a tough task ahead with the Wildcats. Arizona’s men’s tennis program has not produced a first-team All-Pac-12 player in the last 10 years and the Wildcats have never won a Pac-12 singles or doubles title.

Byrne, 44, has developed a proven track record of longevity and prosperity with his hires to date at Mississippi State and Arizona. None of his 14 hires at both schools have been fired.

His only unsuccessful hire to this point is former Arizona swimming and diving coach Eric Hansen, who resigned after a leave of absence less than three years following his hire in 2011.

Byrne’s 14 hires to date are marked by their overall youth and promise. With Shields only 29, the average age of the coaches Byrne has signed at Mississippi State and Arizona is now only 38.7 years old. The 11 hires at Arizona average 38.4 years old.

Byrne is known for attracting young coaches who are on an upward trajectory in their careers. Rich Rodriguez was somewhat old by Byrne’s hiring standards at 48 but the football coach had something in common with all of the coaches who the athletic director has attracted — the hunger to succeed. Rodriguez experienced a rebirth in his career after his firing by Michigan in 2010 after only three seasons there.


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Some other facts with Byrne’s hires and how it relates to Shields coming on board:

— Six of the 11 coaches he has hired at Arizona were head coaches before their hire, including Shields, Rodriguez, Hansen, baseball coach Jay Johnson (hired last June), sand volleyball coach Steve Walker and soccer coach Tony Amato.

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— Women’s basketball coach Adia Barnes (hired on April 4), men’s golf coach Jim Anderson, women’s golf coach Laura Ianello, gymnastics coach Tabitha Yim (hired last May) and swimming and diving coach Rick DeMont were assistants before their promotion or hire by Byrne.

— Only Rodriguez was fired from his previous job before Byrne made the hire. After three seasons as an Arizona assistant, Walker coached the Cal Davis women’s volleyball team in 2006 and 2007 before resigning with an 8-48 record. He returned to Arizona to be part of David Rubio’s staff before the sand volleyball program was initiated in 2013. Rodriguez is 33-20 in his four years at Arizona while Walker is 35-6 in his last two seasons.

— All but Hansen are still active coaches hired by Byrne at Mississippi State and Arizona. None have left either university for another job.


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— Coaches still at Arizona who were hired before Byrne’s arrival on May 3, 2010, include men’s basketball coach Sean Miller, cross country and track and field coaches Fred Harvey and James Li, softball coach Mike Candrea, women’s tennis coach Vicky Maes, and Rubio with the volleyball program.

— In addition to the conference title under Shields, Utah State climbed to No. 56 nationally, the highest ranking in school’s history and posted victories over six nationally-ranked opponents, including a 4-3 win over rival BYU, the second consecutive victory over the Cougars in as many years. Utah State recorded a school-record 21 wins this year, breaking the previous mark of 18 set last season.

Other interesting tidbits on Shields:

— His nickname is Fancy Dancer. He has some explaining to do there.

— He was introduced to tennis at age 7 by his father Pat, who although a football player and boxer, got his family hooked on tennis. Clancy’s sister Patrice played tennis at Colorado while brother Rory played tennis at Mesa State in Grand Junction, Colo. Another brother Luke also played tennis at Boise State with him.

— Clancy contemplated playing football for one season at Boise State after his four-year career in tennis came to an end in 2009 but became a graduate assistant tennis coach instead.

— He is a distant relative of John Stockton, the former Utah Jazz great.

ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.


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