Taylor Made: George Fox A.D. retiring after 45 years with the Br - KPTV - FOX 12

Taylor Made: George Fox A.D. retiring after 45 years with the Bruins

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Craig Taylor (KPTV) Craig Taylor (KPTV)

From NAIA to Division III, George Fox University's Craig Taylor has seen a lot, to say the least, in his four-plus decades in Newberg.

From student-athlete to director of athletics, the long-tenured Bruin now waves goodbye after 45 years at the Christian college in Newberg.

“This place is really special to me,” Taylor said. “It was a real formative place for me.”

Taylor has been a George Fox Bruin through and through since 1971.
“I was a junior college transfer to play basketball and baseball at a very critical time in my life in terms of the structure and accountability, which is what I needed,” he said. “It was kind of a lifesaver in lots of ways for me.”

After graduation, by the age of 22, the native of southern Idaho was the head coach of the Fox baseball program.

“Just a different time,” Taylor said. “That’s not something that can happen anymore.”

From the diamond to administration – with stops as the leader of the women’s basketball and softball programs as well – the professor of health and human performance became the athletic director in 1988.

“My joy in this job has been that because of what happened to me in my life here, that I got the opportunity to give back to that, to re-invest in student-athletes that came after me in ways that people invested in me,” Taylor said. 

As A.D., Taylor gave starts to the college coaching careers of some now great leaders of men and women at Oregon State.

“He’s a special breed. Don’t think I’ve ever met anyone as competitive as Pat Casey,” he said. 

Taylor hired Casey to run Bruin baseball in 1988 before the Newberg High School grad left in '95 to build the Beaver powerhouse in Corvallis.

“A guy that is quoted as saying, ‘I’d rather lose a finger than lose a baseball game.’ Unfortunately, I think that's probably true,” Taylor said. 

Casey said, “I watched Craig play basketball when I was in high school or junior high. I saw him walk in the door and take his first jump shot at George Fox, so that’s how long he’s been there.”

Casey’s replacement, Pat Bailey, who was hired by Taylor, won a DIII national title in baseball in 2004, then joined Casey’s staff with the Beavs.

“The other side of Case that you don't see is really the side that is completely sold out to making kids better off-the-field. I think that's a common theme whether that's Pat Casey, Pat Bailey or Scott Rueck,” said Taylor.  

Rueck is another Beav that was a Bruin, head coach of the 2009 national championship team. 

“You just know. It’s kind of an intuitive thing to be honest,” said Taylor. “It was just really obvious in all of those cases to me. In all three of those cases that those guys were going to be special.”

The two-time Pac-12 Women's Basketball Coach of the Year started coaching for Taylor on another court.

When asked how coaching tennis played into his time at George Fox, Rueck said, “You’ve done your research. That taught me I didn’t want to coach a spring sport. That was a unique year, but that was my first head coaching job.” 

Taylor said, “It was funny because when we started lacrosse he called me, ‘Do I have a shot at that lacrosse job?’ I said, ‘No. you really don’t. I remember when you were a tennis coach.’”

Adding seven sports in his tenure, with men’s and women’s swimming also diving on board next year at Fox, Taylor also revived football, hiring Pat’s brother, Chris Casey, four years ago after the gridiron went dormant at Fox in 1969. 

“The major concerns were, is anyone going to come watch? Are we going to have enough players? Can we be competitive? … You look after three seasons of being competitive, being third in the Northwest conference and leading the conference in attendance every single year … if you haven't been here on a Saturday, you need to come here and see what that feels like,” said Taylor. 

Giving rise to so many, this 65-year-old married father of three Bruin graduates, is retiring in June. 

“These are great when you get them,” said Taylor, referencing a trophy case. “They are fun to watch and it’s fun to watch kids succeed but it’s how they are formed, how they are shaped, how they are prepared for what they are going to do later on in life is the real reward for me.”

Just like it was back in ‘71, and now it’s easy ridin’ into retirement.

“Ride the Harley anywhere I want to go and I don’t have to get back,” Taylor said.  

Taylor earned his master’s degree at Linfield, but he’s total Bruin pride and the university is honoring his 45 years of service, resurfacing the gym floor as “Taylor Court” inside Miller Gymnasium, housed at the Wheeler Sports Center. 

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