Pepperdine Athletic Director Steve Potts announces retirement 

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Pepperdine Director of Athletics Steve Potts has announced his retirement after 13 years in the position. Photo by Morgan Davenport

Waves athletics teams have won 63 conference regular season or tournament championships during his tenure

Pepperdine University Director of Athletics Steve Potts will retire at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. 

Potts is stepping down from the position after a tenure of nearly 13 years, during which Waves sports teams snagged a variety of big wins.

In a Dec. 6 statement, Potts said he has worked alongside talented and dedicated coaches, staff members, and student-athletes during his years as Pepperdine’s athletic director. 

“I am proud of what we have accomplished during my time as the director of athletics and am energized by the prospective continued and renewed success for all of our teams with significant facility upgrades on the horizon,” he said. “The best is yet to come for the Waves!” 

Guided by Potts, Pepperdine captured the I-AAA Athletic Director’s Association All-Sports Award — which goes to the top-performing non-football school in Division I — at the end of the last two academic years and the 2011-12 year. Pepperdine finished in second place for the award at the end of the 2016-17, 2018-19, and 2020-21 academic calendars. Pepperdine finished in third place twice — 2014-15 and 2017-18. 

Ten years after Potts, a Pepperdine Caruso School of Law graduate and past Pepperdine law school professor of 17 years, became the university’s director of athletics the Waves men’s golf team won the 2021 NCAA championship. 

Pepperdine began sponsoring women’s beach volleyball under Potts’ leadership and won the inaugural AVCA national title in 2012 and then again in 2014. The volleyball team finished second in the 2017 NCAA Championships. 

Overall, Waves athletics teams have won 63 conference regular season or tournament championships since Potts became Pepperdine’s athletic director in 2011. 

Other notable achievements sports teams had under Potts’ direction include the men’s basketball team winning the postseason College Basketball Invitational in 2021, the women’s soccer team reaching the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2014 and 2021, and the women’s swimming and diving team winning the Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference title in 2022 and 2023. 

Additionally, the women’s tennis team advanced to the national championship match in 2021, the baseball team advanced to the Super Regional in 2014, and the men’s volleyball team won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation title in 2019 and advanced to the NCAA, and then captured the MPSF crown again in 2022. The men’s water polo team won the Golden Coast Conference tournament in 2016 and 2019. 

Pepperdine has ranked as high as 58th in the end-of-year NACDA College Directors’ Cup standings, which includes all Division I schools. 

A March 2020 AthleticDirectorU study that identified the top Division I athletic director hires ranked Potts 14th out of 229 schools that had changed athletic directors over the past decade. 

Potts, a Nashville, Tennessee, native, said he has been blessed to work as a law professor and as the athletic director at Pepperdine. He thanked several people including former Pepperdine President Andrew Benton, current President Jim Gash, Senior Vice President Tim Perrin, former Director Of Athletics John Watson and Caruso School of Law Dean Emeritus Ron Phillips.

“May God continue to richly bless Pepperdine University and the Pepperdine Waves,” Potts said.