A pioneer of Cougar athletics, Mike Cleary was a major part of the largest athletics expansion in Kean history. A member of the school's first-ever lacrosse team in the spring of 1970, he was also a charter member of the school's football program, which began play that autumn.
A four-year letter winner in lacrosse, Cleary was a standout defenseman from 1970 through 1973, becoming the first Kean player to be named as a first-team All-Knickerbocker Conference honoree. Cleary was also a three-year starter at tackle for the football team from 1970 through 1972, helping to lead the fledgling squad to a solid 4-2 record in its initial campaign in 1970. Besides lacrosse and football, Cleary played basketball for the 1969-1970 Squires (now Cougars). For his accomplishments his senior year, Cleary was presented with the D'Angola Award, the highest honor presented as recognition of outstanding individual performance within the team concept that contributes to the enhancement of the team, the department of athletics and Kean.
Since graduating Coach Cleary has remained very active in the Kean athletic department. He has served as an assistant lacrosse coach since 1978 and was an assistant coach on the Kean teams under the legendary Hawley Waterman that participated in the World Games in Japan 1992 and Australia 1993. Cleary was the offensive line coach for the Kean Football team from 1981 to 1986. He has served as a member of the Hall Of Fame selection committee after his induction into the Kean University Hall of Fame in 1985.
Cleary is the retired chief of police in East Orange, N.J. and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Kean in 1973. He is married to Tricia and is the father of Michael and Matthew.