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York High grad Bortner set to retire after long career as Penn State athlete, coach, administrator

STAFF REPORT
YorkDispatch

After more than 35 years as a Penn State student-athlete, coach and administrator, Jan Bortner has announced he will retire on Sept. 30.

Bortner is a York High graduate who was inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. He was a PIAA state tennis champion at York High in 1971, and in 1973 Bortner beat Dr. Gil Rothrock in a memorable five-set match for the York City-County Tennis Championship. The event was played in front of a crowd of around 700 at Farquhar Park. Rothrock was a 12-time City-County champ who was also inducted into the York Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. Bortner was on the men's tennis team at PSU in 1973.

Bortner is currently PSU's associate athletic director for student-athlete success.

During his 10 years as a PSU administrator, four programs Bortner worked with won a combined 10 NCAA Championships – men's and women's fencing, men's gymnastics, men's volleyball and wrestling. The Nittany Lions also won a combined 11 Big Ten championships and tournament titles and 10 consecutive Eastern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association men's crowns among the 16 programs he worked with as an administrator.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to represent this great athletic department, and I have always felt incredibly blessed to be a student-athlete, volunteer coach, head coach and administrator at Penn State," said Bortner, who moved into athletic administration in September of 2005. "I love Penn State athletics: the passion, the pride, the spirit, the tradition, the history, the success, the class, but most of all, the people. We have some great people in our intercollegiate athletics department who understand what is most important, making a difference in the lives of our student-athletes and supporting each other along the way."

Bortner was one of the primary founders and guiding forces of TEAM ICA (Together Everyone Achieves More), organizing social activities and department events to support Penn State teams en masse when they are competing.

"Jan Bortner represents, at such a high level, all that is right and good about Penn State," PSU director of athletics Sandy Barbour said. "He is a selfless leader who always put Penn State first, particularly our student-athletes. But, most importantly, Jan is a man of high character and integrity who leads with his heart. I'm personally and professionally sad to see him retire, as he has always been such a critical part of shaping who Penn State athletics is, as well as being a key cog in our successes. We will all miss his positivity, enduring smile and his Penn State pride, on an everyday basis. We wish he and (his wife) Laraine nothing but health and happiness as they focus on family."

A four-year participant in the NCAA Men's Tennis Championships as a student-athlete, Bortner succeeded long-time Penn State men's tennis mentor Holmes Cathrall as head coach in 1990 after a highly-successful stint as the women's head coach. Bortner earned a 199-159 record and led the Penn men's program to its first NCAA Tournament victory during his tenure from 1990-2005. He ranks second to Cathrall (280) in coaching wins in program history.

Before becoming the men's head coach, Bortner posted a 125-45 mark as the Penn State head women's tennis coach from 1982-90, including seven Atlantic-10 Conference titles in eight years and the 1986 Eastern Region crown. Bortner is the winningest coach in program history. His combined record as a Penn State head coach was 324-204.

As a player At Penn State, Bortner was a four-year tennis letterwinner and three-year starter at No. 1 singles. He won the Eastern Collegiate singles title in 1973 and 1975. He participated in the NCAA Championship from 1972-75 and advanced as far as the NCAA quarterfinals.