5 Things to Know About Patrick McClenahan

McClenahanBY JOHN HOBBS MA ’14

Patrick McClenahan’s not only the featured commencement speaker at this year’s satellite ceremony for the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy. He’s also the president and CEO of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games, which USC will be co-hosting with UCLA next summer. Here are a couple more things to know about the man behind it all.

1. This guy is one serious sports fan.
In his 25-year career, Patrick McClenahan has served in leadership roles at CBS 2, Fox Sports, KCAL 9 and Prime Ticket where sports often took center stage. In fact, under his leadership, KCAL 9 became the largest local broadcaster of sports in the country. “Sports is the ultimate reality programming,” the 56-year-old USC alumnus says. “The story lines are constantly changing, which makes sports the ultimate reality television.”
McClenahan also has six Emmys at home for his work in sports broadcasting. It was one of these Emmy-winning specials on the Special Olympics Southern California Games that earned him an invitation to join the organization’s board.

2. It’s no easy feat to host the 2015 Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.
Unlike previous years, the 2015 World Games will be largely privately funded. McClenahan and his ever-growing team are responsible for raising that money to hold the games. So far, they’ve managed to attract big names like Coca Cola, AEG, Mattel, Deloitte, Kaiser Permanente, Bank of America and Disney to become a few of the Games’ 15 founding partners. Even with all that work and the fact that his team will ultimately be responsible for the 10,000 individuals coming to L.A. for 12 days, it’s a labor of love for McClenahan. “Every volunteer shows up the first day, thinking they’ve come to help the athletes,” McClenahan says, “and by the end of the day, they’re asking themselves ‘Who is really helping whom?’ There’s a lot to learn from the athletes. It’s very impactful.”

3. McClenahan’s a very proud papa of two—one of whom has special needs.
McClenahan and wife Karren are proud parents of two. Their 31-year-old son Eric works as the creative arts director at a La Crescenta-area church. Their 27-year-old daughter Kelly has cerebral palsy and lives at home. Though challenging, McClenahan says life with a daughter who has a physical disability comes with remarkable joys. “I tell people all the time that my daughter is a unique creation with a special purpose in life. She touches people unlike anyone else can.”

4. Things can get tense in the McClenahan household come college football season.
McClenahan and his wife are in a mixed marriage: She’s a Bruin, he’s a Trojan. Dating throughout college, McClenahan remembers game time with his UCLA-going future wife always meant separating. “She sat on one side of the field at the Coliseum, and I sat on the other side with my friends. And we won all four years!” he says, adding, “And yet she still married me!”

5. It probably doesn’t hurt that he knows his way around a kitchen.
When McClenahan’s not planning the 2015 World Games or delivering the commencement speech at the Division’s satellite ceremony (on May 16), he likes to unwind over a hot stove. “Cooking was always a good release for me after a day at work,” says McClenahan, a self-described foodie. “So coming home, pouring a glass of wine and having fun with what I prepare for dinner is probably one of my favorite hobbies—and my daughter Kelly seems to like everything I make.”