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Rocklin Calif. – William Jessup University announcedย it has hired former Stanford University football standout Mitch Pleis as its athletic director.

A Granite Bay resident, Pleis will oversee the athletic department at William Jessup, expanding its programs and engagement with supporters. The Warriors currently have five men’s teams and six women’s teams.

Pleis grew up in an athletic family atmosphere in Lafayette, CA where his father, Wendell Pleis, was a highly successful high school football coach. Mitch was a three-sport standout at Del Valle High, where he and his two younger brothers played football for their father. All three later played collegiately in the Pac-10 Conference.

Mitch Pleis’ football background includes an association with a who’s who of high profile college and NFL coaches. He was a standout tight end for two seasons (1977-78) at Stanford under head coach Bill Walsh and one of his top assistants, George Seifert. Pleis also was coached by or was a member of the Stanford coaching staff that included Dennis Green, Jim Fassel, Rod Dowhower, and Ray Handley, who all became NFL head coaches.

“We’re very excited to have someone with Mitch Pleis’ athletic pedigree join our leadership team at William Jessup,” said Eric Hogue, William Jessup’s Chief Development Officer. “He has been mentored by very special coaches like Bill Walsh and George Seifert, and comes from an amazing athletic family. Mitch is going to be a great resource for all our coaches and athletes. And his background as a highly successful businessman will aid William Jessup in our effort to build a top-notch athletic program.”

After playing two seasons at Stanford, Pleis was reunited with his college coach in the spring of 1979 as a free agent in Walsh’s first year as San Francisco 49ers head coach. But Pleis suffered a career-ending knee injury before summer training camp. Walsh went on to win three Super Bowls with the 49ers and was a Hall of Fame coach.

Unable to play in 1979, Pleis joined the Stanford coaching staff where one of the players he helped coach was freshman quarterback John Elway. Pleis’ coaching resume also includes one season as an assistant football coach at Granite Bay High School and eight years as a Eureka Youth Soccer Club coach. Pleis’ four children were all soccer standouts; two of them played soccer at the collegiate level.
“What I learned from Bill Walsh and George Seifert was their strong belief in hiring the best assistant coaches available. Friendship took a back seat to hiring the most capable person for the job,” Pleis said. “I’ve taken that same approach in my business career – hire the best people available I’ll be driving the hiring process at William Jessup with that line of thinking as part of my philosophy.”

Utilizing his Stanford undergraduate degree, where he specialized in Urban Development and Planning, Pleis enjoyed a successful business career that spanned 33 years in real estate investment management. The scope of his experience is very broad, including real estate development, finance, asset and portfolio management for multiple property types and locations all across the United States. 

Pleis was the Director of Real Estate for the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) for nine years. He was responsible for redesigning the real estate investment program and changing the implementation strategies for investment managers. 

He also founded Pleis and Company, which provided consulting services to real estate operators.

“My business career includes directing organizations at the management committee level and managing property and portfolio budgets. I will draw on that experience as athletic director at William Jessup,” Pleis said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the Jessup coaching staff, interacting with its wonderful student-athletes, and returning to an academic and athletic environment. The athletic program has so much potential for growth. This is an exciting time to be joining the William Jessup team.”

Pleis is an Eagle Scout and enjoys spending time with his wife Carole, who is an adjunct professor at William Jessup, daughter Jessica, and his three sons, Zachary, Jacob and Joshua. He has been teaching men’s Bible studies for many years since moving to the Granite Bay area.

About William Jessup University

Founded in 1939 by William Jessup, the University moved to Rocklin, California, in August 2004.

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