Zac Claus named head coach of Idaho men’s basketball
MOSCOW, Idaho — Zac Claus, who has acted as interim head coach since July, has been named the University of Idaho’s head men’s basketball coach, director of athletics Terry Gawlik announced on Tuesday.
Claus becomes the 30th men’s basketball coach in Vandal history. He got his first win as the interim head coach on November 5, 2019, against Evergreen State. The 2019-20 Idaho squad under Claus has already surpassed last year’s win total. This season, he has coached senior Trevon Allen to a spot on the Vandals’ Career Scoring Top-10 List.
“Zac Claus has earned the opportunity to be our head men’s basketball coach. He has done all we have asked while in the interim role and has done it with integrity, honesty and class. He has started to build a solid foundation with a true passion to develop student-athletes,” said Gawlik. “I can say with sincerity; the University of Idaho made the best decision in the interest of the program to appoint him to the interim position following difficult times. Thankfully he agreed to take that opportunity and has agreed to continue as our head coach moving forward.
“Although we have not been as successful in the win/loss column, I believe our team has improved in many ways,” said Gawlik. “I am eager to see that progress continue under Coach Claus’ leadership.”
“Zac Claus agreed to take on a challenged program and has formed a hardworking team of outstanding young men and prepared a base on which to build a sustainable program,” U of I President Scott Green said. “He has proven himself a valuable asset to our men’s basketball team and to Vandal Athletics, both as an assistant and in his role as interim head coach. Both Terry and I are grateful for Zac’s energy and unfailing effort. His mentorship will continue to elevate our student-athletes as he builds a quality program that excels in the classroom and on the court.”
Prior to being named interim head coach in July 2019, Claus spent four seasons as an assistant at Idaho. During that time, the Vandals won 67 total games and advanced to a pair of postseason tournaments.
“Our family is absolutely thrilled about this tremendous opportunity. I want to thank President Green for entrusting us to continue on in leading this program forward. Terry Gawlik has been incredibly supportive of us since day one of her tenure and I thank her for believing in us. I also want to thank the late Pete Isakson for presenting us with the chance to coach this year’s Idaho basketball team,” said Claus. “The players on this team have been terrific in the face of adversity. They have allowed us to push them and they have continued to believe in one another and I thank them for making this possible. This is a special place and we will strive to lead the first class young men in our program to achieve greatness both on and off the court.”
Claus spent 10 seasons at Nevada before coming to Idaho. He spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Wolf Pack, helping in all areas of the program including recruiting, scouting, and on the floor coaching. He was also in charge of scheduling and overseeing the program’s budget, team managers, and equipment.
Prior to his time at Nevada, Claus spent time as an assistant at Sacramento State and Portland State. He began his coaching career as the assistant varsity and head junior varsity coach at Nebraska Wesleyan during the 1998-99 season before coaching a season at Austin College.
Claus graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications from Eastern Washington in 1998, where he finished his playing career. He played two seasons with the Eagles after beginning his collegiate career at Creighton University and the University of Nebraska.
Claus and his wife, Toni, have three daughters, Peyton, Morgan, and Addison.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Mark Fox – Head Men’s Basketball Coach, University of California
“Zac Claus is a shining example of what college basketball and student athletes need. He is a great example of the character we all hope our young people develop. Idaho has selected a true leader and a coach with the basketball experience to forge a great future ahead.”
Jon Newlee – Head Women’s Basketball Coach, University of Idaho
I couldn’t be more excited and thrilled that Zac is getting this opportunity to be the next head coach for the Vandal men. Having worked alongside him I see his tremendous passion and tireless work ethic on display on a daily basis. I think he has done an awesome job under extremely trying circumstances this year, and I can’t wait to see the huge strides I’m sure the program will take in the future under his leadership. We are lucky to have such a great quality person here at Idaho! It’s a great day to be a Vandal!
Rhonda Lundin Bennett – Senior Associate AD, Nevada Reno
“Vandal Basketball is in great hands with Zac Claus, and I could not be happier for Zac and his family. He embodies everything that is right with college athletics and is truly committed to the success and development of student-athletes. Coach Claus is a class act, and I look forward to seeing what he will accomplish in the future.”
Steve Aggers – Head coach of Zac Claus at Eastern Washington
“While we have not coached together, Zac was a student-athlete for our men’s basketball team when I was the head coach at Eastern Washington University. Zac is a man of unquestioned integrity and impeccable character. I know that he will bring great enthusiasm, dedicated effort and energy to the position on a daily basis. Rest assured that he will also bring a well thought out vision for the future success of Vandal Basketball. Most importantly, he will care about the student-athletes under his supervision, and work to ensure their success on the court, in the classroom and in life.”