Chris Clunie, a former walk-on basketball player at Davidson and now director of the NBA’s International Basketball Operations, has been named the Wildcats’ athletics director, the school announced Wednesday.
Clunie, 34, graduated from Davidson in 2006 and has worked for the NBA’s international operation since 2008, rising to director in 2017. Clunie has also been in charge of basketball operations for the NBA’s All-Star Weekend and draft combine, which is being held this weekend in Chicago.
“I came to Davidson because of academics,” Clunie said in a statement. “Academics was always first for me. And I was fortunate to be a walk-on on the basketball team. Davidson is that rare place that does athletics right – a rigorous academic environment, but a quarter of the students play Division I sports.”
Clunie first arrived at Davidson in 2002 and made coach Bob McKillop’s basketball team as a walk-on. He played in 40 games over his four-year career.
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“Chris’ leadership and vision for the future will be a sensational addition to Davidson College and Davidson athletics,” McKillop said in a text to the Observer. “Chris was a model of excellence as a student-athlete, and excellence has continued to be his partner as a Davidson alumnus.”
Clunie replaces Jim Murphy, who is stepping aside after 23 years and will continue to work as a senior adviser to the president for finance and operations. Murphy will also become Davidson’s director of athletics emeritus. He will continue as athletics director through July 1, when Clunie comes aboard.
“Chris not only understands the role of athletics within a Davidson education, he has lived it and he speaks authentically and with passion about it,” Davidson President Carol Quillen said in a statement. “He was a Terry Scholar and Watson Fellow who also played on a conference championship team. He knows ‘scholar athlete’ is one term and, from both Davidson and his career, has shown the critical value and the joy of working with people from different places and backgrounds towards a shared goal.”
Clunie also recently received his master's from Columbia in public administration and financial management.
“I’m detail-oriented,” Clunie said. “I hold myself and others accountable, and I’m a collaborator who will support, empower and advocate for coaches and administrators. I want to help build a strong ‘Team Davidson’ culture and move beyond being a national story and into a national program.”
Said Wildcats baseball coach Dick Cooke, who will leave that position at the end of the season and become an associate athletics director at Davidson: “(Clunie’s) got a confidence and comfort level with any group. And he can translate that to whatever is needed at Davidson.”
Clunie helped McKillop recruit a high school basketball prospect named Stephen Curry to Davidson in 2006, the year Clunie graduated. Clunie, who played a pickup basketball game with Curry during a recruiting visit, offered McKillop this assessment of Curry, who went on to become an All-American and NBA MVP:
“He’ll be pretty good and contribute.”
David Scott: @davidscott14