Athletics Director (1972-79) / Inducted Oct. 15, 2015
Neale Stoner was hired as the Titans’ fourth director of athletics in the Fall of 1972, replacing John Caine who served from 1967-1972. It was Stoner that would be tasked with transitioning the Fullerton Athletics Department from the College Division level to a full-fledged Division I department that would debut in 1974-75.
Stoner was credited for the hiring of two major players in Cal State Fullerton history: baseball’s Augie Garrido and basketball’s Bobby Dye.
Garrido was hired in 1973 to transform the baseball program into a legitimate Division I contender. He took the Titans to the College World Series in their first Div. I campaign and won the program’s first national championship in 1979 – one of 3 Garrido would win at Fullerton. Dye led the Titans to six consecutive winning seasons from 1973-79 and captained the remarkable run through the 1978 NCAA Tournament with the unheralded “Cal State Who” squad that finished in the finals of the West Regional in Albuquerque, N.M.
Other programs thrived as well under Stoner’s watch. The men’s soccer team advanced to four straight (1972-75) NCAA Tournaments and finished as the runner-up in the title game in 1973. Gymnastics brought Fullerton considerable fame as men’s coach Dick Wolfe won his third College Division NCAA title in 1974, and Lynn Rogers began the women’s program in 1976, and won a national title in 1979. Men’s cross country placed third at the 1972 NCAA Championships while the women’s fencing team won a national title in 1974. In addition, the men’s water polo squad finished third at the NCAA championships in 1974 after winning the PCAA title.
Stoner was a Titan student-athlete, earning his degree from Orange County State College (Cal State Fullerton) in 1962. He played two years (1961 & 1962) on both the Titans’ men’s basketball and tennis teams. He took his first full-time position in athletics as assistant athletics director and head basketball coach at UC San Diego and from there went on to coach basketball (1969-72) and earn his master’s degree (1975) at Cal Poly.
Stoner left Cal State Fullerton in the fall of 1979 and accepted a position as athletics director at the University of Illinois until 1988. He later played a major role in the re-birth of San Diego State golf programs in 1993 by securing funding sponsorship from the Aldila and Callaway corporations. He also served as the men’s golf head coach through 2000.