The Campaign for the Student-Athlete

The Campaign for the Student-Athlete

Al Irwin



 Al Irwin, who helped build the foundation for athletic programs across Orange County, has created a legacy with his thoughtful guidance of future leaders. Today, Al continues to be a life coach, a mentor, and a close friend for so many people within this community. Al, UC Irvine’s first water polo and swim coach, is an individual whose influence over young lives has made a lasting impression on many within the Orange County community; especially those who had the honor to compete for him.  The Al Irwin Academic Center is a dedicated space to continue his vision and commitment to teaching and preparing young people for making an impact in their community.

Al Irwin spent 13 years at UC Irvine from 1965-78. In 1970, he was the assistant coach with the water polo team that won the team's first-ever NCAA Division I championship. In addition to his coaching legacy at UC Irvine, Irwin became the acting vice chairman of the UCI Department of Physical Education and Assistant Director of Athletics until his retirement in 1978. Al has earned numerous awards for his work as a standout coach and athlete at Newport Harbor High School. As an athlete, Al earned 15 high school varsity letters and went on to play college football at the University of Pacific where he earned All-Coast honors.


Meeting academic responsibilities while competing at the highest level is top priority for UCI student-athletes. It’s a challenging task, with the requirements of practice time, away-game travel, and year-round conditioning. Add the demands of class work and community service, and it is a full life indeed. The Al Irwin Academic Center sends a clear and powerful message to scholar-athletes, coaches, the surrounding community, and alumni about UCI’s commitment to transforming the student-athlete experience by providing a quality learning environment. The center provides a comprehensive area which houses services such as academic consultation for course selection, class scheduling, and skills development classes (including study strategy workshops, note and test taking), orientation for freshman and transfer student-athletes as well as academic and life management skills. The Al Irwin Academic Center also assists with summer school assessment, tutoring and mentoring opportunities, computer and printer lab access. Other possible uses for the center include post-eligibility programs for internships, resumé building opportunities, networking, and job searches for the department’s 300 student-athletes. The new center provides intellectual and social community support that contributes to the holistic development of student-athletes and stimulates camaraderie among all students throughout UCI’s eighteen Division 1 sports. 


The Al Irwin Academic Center and the features within the center provide resources for student-athletes, who give everything they have to make the grade in representing UCI, through this new aid and support center. The center, as part of the Campaign for the Student-Athletes, dramatically expands student-athlete access to computers, study areas, classrooms, and offices for private sessions. The new study hall space of approximately 2500 sq. ft., includes a computer lab occupying 1600 sq. ft. and tutoring spaces occupying 550 sq. ft. of the space. The center’s highlights include a modern computer lab with the latest information technology, dedicated tutoring and study space, staff offices for confidential sessions, and casual study area.


With your help, we can honor Al’s lifelong efforts by paying it forward to current and future UC Irvine student-athletes while also continuing Al’s legacy of developing future leaders. This project has been made possible through a generous contribution from Martha and Jim Newkirk, long time supporters of UC Irvine and opportunities for success among student-athletes. Please consider joining the Newkirk family in this endeavor by making a personal contribution towards this project. For additional information or to make a gift in support of the Al Irwin Academic Center please contact Kara Correa at (949) 824-0055 or


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