Considered one of the true gentlemen in college athletics, Coach Clodfelter of Vermillion was a significant part of the South Dakota Athletics Department for nearly 30 years and he was associated with the Athletics program for more than 50 years. Clodfelter had a legacy of success as a coach, administrator and teacher.
"We have suffered a huge loss with the passing of Coach Clodfelter. He was a special person who always thought of others first. He was dedicated to helping young people and for that the university and this community is forever grateful," said USD Athletics Director Joel Nielsen. "He touched and impacted thousands of lives during a lifetime of achievement. Our hearts are with the Clodfelter family."
"We have lost a great friend," said Jack Theeler, a USD graduate (BSBA '68, JD '71) and an attorney from Mitchell. "He was a mentor and someone that was an outstanding teacher, coach and role model. He loved to hunt and fish and was a great sports enthusiast."
Theeler has served as the honorary chair for the Dwane Clodfelter Scholarship which was established at USD in 2005 to help fund scholarships for student-athletes.
"We will miss him, especially his sense of humor and his ability to make everyone feel important. He was a father figure to many young men and women at USD. More than that, he was a special friend," said Theeler, who played for Clodfelter at USD in the mid-1960s.
A 1980 Coyote Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Clodfelter, often referred to as "Cloddy," was a spirited and energetic individual during his tenure as an assistant athletic director, golf coach and men's basketball coach. He led USD to its only men's basketball national title in 1958. He has been inducted into the NCC Honor Hall, the South Dakota Sports Hall of Fame, among many other Hall of Fames.
A standout athlete at Woonsocket High School, Clodfelter was named an assistant basketball and freshman football coach at USD in 1953 by then Athletic Director Carl "Rube" Hoy. Clodfelter, who was named head coach of basketball in 1954, produced a 149-153 (.493) record from 1954-67. In NCC play, he directed the men's basketball team to an 89-67 record (.571 winning percentage).
He will forever be linked to one of the greatest all-time basketball teams – the 1957-58 squad which won a national title, the only in school history. Clodfelter directed the Coyotes to consecutive NCC league titles in 1956-57 and 1957-58, putting together a 41-9 record and a 23-1 mark in the NCC, which is the best two-year run in the league in school history. During the 1957-58 national championship season, Clodfelter directed the Coyotes to a 22-5 record, cumulating with a 75-53 win over St. Michaels of Vermont in the small college championship at Evansville, IN.
Clodfelter's 1958 team won its final 20 games and became the first NCC team to go unbeaten (12-0) in league play for a 12-game schedule. Cloddy's teams set the state record for consecutive home wins of 34 from 1956-59. He had an impressive 32-3 record from 1956-59 in NCC games. He ended his coaching career after the 1966-67 season due to health concerns but returned to USD to coach golf and served as an assistant athletic director until retiring in 1982.
Prior to coming to USD as a freshman coach in 1953, he had a 15-year high school coaching at Centerville (1943-49), Yankton (1949-1950), and Huron (1950-53) with his teams never suffering a losing season. He coached Centerville High to two Class B state track titles. He remains the only coach to direct both Class A and B squads to state track titles.
Clodfelter, who earned an undergraduate degree from USD in 1947, was a person known for his story and joke-telling. "He made everyone laugh and feel good about themselves," said Theeler.
Clodfelter was a protégé of legendary coaches like Fred Taylor of Ohio State, Bud Foster of Wisconsin and others. He served on the same basketball committee as UCLA coaching legend John Wooden. Clodfelter's teams traveled and hosted Division I basketball powers, including the likes of Marquette, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Minnesota, and others. As a young baseball player, he once stroked a base hit off Hall of Fame baseball player Satchel Paige, who was barnstorming in South Dakota in the 1930s.