When Miami University was looking last year for an athletic director to replace Brad Bates, two of the three main attributes for which President David Hodge was looking for were the abilities to raise money and hire and develop “first-class” coaches.
In less than one year on the job, David Sayler has proven that he can raise money and, at least, hire coaches – so well, in fact, that Miami on Monday gave him a five-year contract extension through the 2018-19 seasons.
Sayler believes the longer-term deal will help him do a better job, now that alumni and donors with whom he deals know that he’s in it for the long haul. He agreed with the comparison to a coach with a long-term contract having an edge in recruiting.
“It’s a huge factor,” he said. “What it does is give donors and alums confidence that I’m not just one guy trying to push an agenda. It’s the entire university. What I am is just the mouthpiece. At the end of the day, it gives them a certain level of confidence.”
A feeling shared by Hodge about Sayler.
“David Sayler has had a phenomenal first year,” Hodge said is a press release. “He has created a strategic focus, emphasized performance through (intercollegiate athletics) staff and teams, made some difficult decisions, recruited top-flight new coaches and dramatically increased private giving to support Miami student-athletes. I am delighted that he will be building the foundations of Miami intercollegiate athletics for years to come.”
Sayler, who officially started work as Miami’s 16th athletic director last Jan. 2 after being named on Dec. 13, 2012, has made the difficult decisions to fire two former Miami athletes, women’s basketball coach Maria Fantanarosa and, five games into the season, football coach Don Treadwell. He hired coach Cleve Wright from Gannon University to replace Fantanarosa and Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin to take over for Treadwell.
Sayler, a Connecticut native who grew up in Dayton and graduated from Miami Valley School (1987) and Ohio Wesleyan, also hired Danny Hayden as the RedHawks’ new baseball coach last July after Dan Simonds left for Indiana.
Single-year donations to Miami athletics reached a record level, including donations to the Red and White Club from every one of Miami’s 547 student-athletes, according to the press release.
The increase in donations allowed Sayler to confidently develop a comprehensive master plan, starting with the new, 91,000-square-foot Indoor Sports Center at the north end of Yager Stadium. Construction is scheduled to begin in March.
Sayler’s plan also includes building a new Student Performance Center and Indoor Tennis Center and renovating Millett Hall and the Yager Stadium press box and suite area.
RedHawk student-athletes teamed up to produce a school-record 3.24 GPA in the spring semester while winning eight Mid-American Conference championships during the 2012-2013 school year. The women captured the Jacoby Cup for overall excellence and added field hockey and women’s cross-country titles this past fall.
Those achievements give Sayler the most pride from his first year in Oxford.
“It’s always about the student-athlete,” he said. “Having them achieve a record GPA in the first year – we’re here for them. They are why we have jobs. That and the indoor sports center. That was a project that’s been long talked about and we finally delivered.”