Men's basketball: Tim Cluess resigns after at Iona College due to health

Josh Thomson
Rockland/Westchester Journal News
Iona head coach Tim Cluess yells instructions to players in the first half against North Carolina during a first round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, March 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

After a 10-year stint that is arguably the best in MAAC men's basketball history, Tim Cluess informed Iona College and his players on Friday that he has resigned as head coach.

Cluess, who missed the entire 2019-20 season with an undisclosed illness, said he will serve the program in an advisory role to focus on making a full recovery.

"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," Cluess said in a statement released by the college. "I appreciate the concern and care that the Iona Community, in particular Dr. (Seamus) 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."

Iona College basketball coach Tim Cluess  stands with the four MAAC Conference basketball trophies in the gym at Iona College, March 12, 2019.  They won their fourth consecutive championship the night before in Albany.

The Gaels won 20 or more games in eight of Cluess' nine seasons and reached the postseason in all nine. They won five MAAC tournament titles, including an unprecedented four straight from 2016-19. Iona was one of only 13 out of 351 Division I schools to participate in the last four NCAA tournaments. Gonzaga was the only other team not from a major conference in the group.

Additionally, Iona won four regular-season titles during Cluess' tenure. The 61-year old has won the most tournament titles and most tournament games in MAAC history and ranks second on the league's regular-season wins list.

"We're extremely proud of Tim Cluess and how he represented our program over the last ten years," said Matt Glovaski, the college's Director of Athletics. "He elevated Iona men's basketball and put us into the national spotlight on an annual basis."

Cluess' teams went 199-106 during his nine seasons at the helm, which is both the highest win total and highest winning percentage among the 23 Division I schools in the metropolitan area and second to Syracuse among the 22 Division I schools in the state.

Cluess arrived in New Rochelle prior to the 2010-11 season after successful stints at St. Mary's Manhasset, Suffolk Community College and LIU Post. His Iona teams produced 13 first-team all-MAAC players, including three Players of the Year: Scott Machado, Momo Jones and David Laury. Cluess was named the league's Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2019 and was honored by the Met Basketball Writers Association at its Coach of the Year in 2018.

Cluess kept busy during his absence watching film, sending notes and having conversations with players, and advising acting head coach Tra Arnold. However, the Gaels finished the season 12-17 and 9-11 overall in conference play. They lost their final game 56-54 to Saint Peter's on a last-second shot in the MAAC quarterfinals Wednesday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Although Cluess' advisory role remains undefined and the college will have to hire his replacement, he hopes to benefit the coaching staff.

"I look forward to my new role and assisting the College in every way I can going forward," Cluess said. "On behalf of myself and my family, I want to thank Gael Nation, including every student-athlete I had to honor to coach, for their ever-present vocal support. I am proud of what we've accomplished together and look forward to supporting the program in my new advisory role."

Josh Thomson is the Local Sports Editor for The Journal News and Poughkeepsie Journal. He can be reached by e-mail at, on Twitter at @lohudinsider, and on Instagram at @lohudinsider.

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