The man who led University of the Pacific women’s volleyball to its two NCAA championship titles in 1985 and 1986 is back in Stockton, not to coach student-athletes, but this time, to coach coaches.

Dunning returns to the Pacific Athletics Department to fill the role of Special Assistant to the Director of Athletics for Competitive Excellence, serving as a mentor and sounding board for Pacific’s head and assistant coaches. His new role provides a unique opportunity, not often offered in college athletics, for them to progress, learn and develop.

“I am thrilled to welcome Coach Dunning back to Pacific as a member of our athletics staff,” said Director of Athletics Janet Lucas. “John is an exceptional leader and Hall of Fame coach with a passion for Pacific and a perspective shaped through life experience and decades of success.

“His commitment to the growth and advancement of our coaches and the vision for the Pacific Tigers will be influential as we strive to build upon our tradition of athletic success,” said Lucas.

In alignment with his educational organization, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, which he founded with former Pacific volleyball coach Terry Liskevych, Dunning’s new role at Pacific is designed to help coaches grow and improve.

“It has been great to get to know John over the last few weeks,” said Robin Goodman, head men’s tennis coach. “I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversations, particularly on the dynamics between accountability and relationship-building, as well as strategies to foster a strong team culture. He has been a major and impactful resource for the department and me.”

Dunning said he loved his 16 years as Pacific’s head women’s volleyball coach. “I am very excited to join the Pacific athletic department staff as a resource for the coaching staff,” he said. “Julie and I have so many fond memories of our time here and have enjoyed the last six years living in the community once again.”

Hailey Decker, assistant softball coach, said she appreciates the opportunity to work with a coach of Dunning’s talent. “Coach Dunning has helped us all grow and has given advice so we can be better for our current student-athletes. We are lucky he’s a Tiger.”

Dunning coached the Pacific women’s volleyball team from 1985-2000, during which he won Pacific’s only two NCAA championship titles. He led the team to a runner-up national finish in 1990, earned five Big West Conference championships and had 16 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. His teams compiled a postseason record of 43-15.

He was named Big West Coach of the Year four times and was inducted into the University of the Pacific Hall of Fame in 2007. He coached 16 All-Americans, including two-time Olympian Elaina Oden and 2008 Olympian Jennifer Joines.

After 16 years at the helm of Pacific’s volleyball program, Dunning moved to lead Stanford’s program.
In 16 seasons as Stanford’s head coach, Dunning guided the Cardinal to three NCAA championships (2001, 2004, 2016), a 58–13 record in the NCAA tournament and seven national championship match appearances.

He was inducted into the AVCA Hall of Fame in 2011, chosen the AVCA National Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2016 and shares the NCAA Division I record for coaching in the most women’s volleyball championship matches (10) with Penn State coach Russ Rose.

In 32 seasons of collegiate coaching, he guided his teams to five NCAA championships – second most of any Division I women’s volleyball coach – and compiled an overall record of 888-185 (.828). He is the only Division I women’s volleyball coach to win an NCAA Championship as a first-year head coach at two different schools. In 1985 at Pacific, he became the first first-year coach in NCAA history to win a national title, and in 2001 he repeated the feat as a first-year head coach at Stanford.

“I love Pacific. I’m excited and honored to be invited to be part of the athletic department again,” said Dunning. “I’ve met all the coaches, and it’s been a joy getting to know them. My job is to talk to them, listen, relate to what the coaches and their team are going through, help them with whatever they need, be a good listener and be accessible. I look forward to going in every day.”

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