It is the end of an era for Iona.
After years of struggling with an unknown illness, legendary Gaels trainer Tim Cluess resigned as head coach after 10 years, but remains in an advisory capacity as he focuses on his recovery. The 61-year-old Cluess had led Iona to six appearances in NCAA tournaments since 2012.
“I would like to sincerely thank the community and administration of Iona College for the opportunity to be part of Gael Nation for the past decade,” said Cluess in a statement. “I appreciate the concern and care that the Iona community, especially Dr. Carey has shown for me and my family in the past few months because I have been dealing with a complicated health issue that has kept me from coaching.
“I look forward to my new role and support the college in every way. On behalf of myself and my family, I would like to thank Gael Nation, including all athletes I have been allowed to train, for their omnipresent and vocal support. I am proud of what we have achieved together and look forward to supporting the program in my new advisory role. “
Cluess, a lifelong New Yorker, came to New Rochelle in 2010 with no experience in Division I since playing at St. Johns and Hofstra, but was an incredible success every time he stopped coaching. He spent 14 years at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset and went 25-1 in his last season. He went 22-10 in his lonely year at Suffolk Community College. He went 98-23 in four seasons with Division II C.W. Post Office. Then Iona called.
Cluess used one of the fastest and most exciting offensive systems in the country, won at least 20 games in each of his first eight years and set records with five MAAC tournament championships and seven direct conference title appearances.
“We are very proud of Tim Cluess and how he has represented our program over the past decade,” said Matthew Glovaski, Director of Athletics. “He has raised the Iona men’s basketball and put us in the national spotlight every year. I want to recognize Coach’s resilience in dealing with a complex health situation that kept him off the pitch last season. We will continue to be Tim and his family help manage his health affairs and are very happy that he will continue to play an advisory role and remain an important part of the Iona family. ”
Shortly before Iona started looking for a fifth MAAC title in a row in the fall, Cluess resigned and hired the assistant head coach, Tra Arnold. Cluess remained involved from far away and communicated with players and staff every day while continuing to watch games and films. Iona ended his first season (12-17) since 2009 and fell in the quarter-finals of the MAAC tournament before the event was canceled the following day.
“It was really difficult without Cluess,” said Senior E.J. Crawford said before the tournament. “He’s the best coach I’ve ever played for. He’s a great guy and it’s hard not to have him, but his health is most important.”
Cluess ended his tenure with 199 wins and a 0.650 percent gain, the highest of all New York Metropolitan Division I programs.