After 10 years of extraordinary dedication to Iona College, the men’s basketball program, our students, and the community, Tim Cluess is stepping down as head coach so that he may focus on making a full recovery from his recent health concerns, and serve in an advisory role.
“I want to sincerely thank the Iona College community and administration for the opportunity to be a part of Gael Nation for the past ten years,” said Cluess. “I appreciate the concern and care that the Iona Community, in particular Dr. Carey, has demonstrated for me and my family over the past few months as I have been dealing with a complicated health issue that kept me from coaching.”
“I look forward to my new role and assisting the College in every way I can going forward,” Cluess added. “On behalf of myself and my family, I want to thank Gael Nation, including every student-athlete I had the honor to coach, for all their ever-present and vocal support. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished together and look forward to supporting the program in my new advisory role.”
“We’re extremely proud of Tim Cluess and how he represented our program over the last ten years,” said Director of Athletics Matthew Glovaski. “He elevated Iona men’s basketball and put us into the national spotlight on an annual basis. I want to recognize Coach’s resilience in dealing with a complicated health situation that kept him off the court this last season. We will continue to support Tim and his family as he manages his health matter and are very happy he will continue to contribute in an advisory role and remain an important part of the Iona family.”
One of the greatest coaches in MAAC history, Cluess won five MAAC tournament championships and four regular season titles during his nine years on the sidelines. His MAAC tournament win total is the most all-time in league history and his regular season win total ranks No. 2.
In 2018-19, Iona men’s basketball earned its fourth-straight MAAC Championship, becoming the first program in the history of the league to four-peat. The Gaels owned the NCAA Division I’s longest conference tournament winning streak, one more than WAC’s New Mexico State, the MEAC’s North Carolina Central and the Big East’s Villanova. Iona’s five conference titles in eight years was only exceeded by New Mexico State and Gonzaga. Only 13 of the 351 Division I school appeared in four straight NCAA tournaments from 2016-2019. Gonzaga and Iona were the lone representatives in that group from a mid-major conference. Iona also captured the MAAC’s regular season championship, becoming the first program in a decade to win both regular season and tournament crowns. For his efforts, Cluess was named the 2019 MAAC Coach of the Year.
Under Cluess, Iona participated in a national postseason tournament in each of his nine seasons on the sidelines and won 20 or more games in eight. The Gaels also earned a MAAC regular season or tournament championship in his last eight seasons.
Following his ninth season, Cluess continued his rise in the ranks in MAAC lore. His fifth MAAC tournament championship surpassed La Salle’s Speedy Morris four for most all-time in league history. Cluess won as many MAAC Championships as head coach as any other program in the MAAC (Siena 5, Manhattan 5). With eight 20+ win campaigns he stands with three more than Morris’ Explorers accomplished from 1986-1992. Cluess’ eighth MAAC championship game appearance is three more than former 15-year Niagara head coach Joe Mihalch. With three more victories this season, his 22 all-time MAAC tournament wins is four ahead of Mihalich’s mark of 18. Cluess’ 124 MAAC wins in nine years is third-most all-time behind Mihalich’s 166 wins in 15 seasons and Jimmy Patsos’ 132 wins in 14 seasons during stints at Loyola Maryland and Siena.
Iona’s 199 wins and .650 winning percentage in the Cluess-era were the highest among the 23 NCAA Division I schools in the New York Metropolitan area. The Maroon & Gold also appeared in more NCAA tournaments (6) and total postseason events (9) than any other team in the New York area.
As a testament to Cluess’ ability to recruit and foster talent, 10 Iona players have earned 18 All-Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association selections since 2011. Mike Glover, Scott Machado, Lamont Jones, Sean Armand, A.J. English, Jordan Washington, Rickey McGill and E.J. Crawford have combined for 13 All-Met First Team honors, the most among MBWA schools. Machado and Jones earned the prestigious Haggerty Award in 2012 and 2013, as the top performer in the Metropolitan Area.
During his tenure, and among the 22 NCAA Division I schools in New York State, Iona’s total wins and winning percentage were second to the ACC’s Syracuse. The Maroon & Gold’s eight 20+ win seasons topped the New York State leaderboard.