David Sayler has been Miami’s athletic director since Jan. 2, 2013.
Since his arrival, Sayler has preached the mission of “Graduating Champions,” an approach that provides guidance and support (fundraising) to Miami student athletes in the pursuit of excellence both in the classroom (graduate) and on the field (win championships). To that end, Miami was named the winner of the Cartwright Award for 2017-2018 which is voted on by all MAC institutions and recognizes the best Athletic Department in the conference in the areas of academics, community service and competitive results.
Much of that support comes directly from Miami’s Graduating Champions Campaign, which has raised $76 million since 2015, the first ever exclusive capital campaign for Intercollegiate Athletics at Miami. Miami is expected to raise $80 million by the end of this year. That fundraising has come in many forms, highlighted by the Athletic Performance Center (opened Feb, 2017) that overlooks Yager Stadium and the David and Anita Dauch Indoor Sports Center, which opened in February, 2014. Sayler has also added an addition to Hayden Park for baseball, new lights, seating and flooring for Millett Hall, a weight room for the Goggin Ice Center and new outdoor courts for the tennis program.
While the fundraising aspect during Sayler’s tenure has been impressive, Miami has also been dominate on the playing surface. Miami has won 27 conference championships since Sayler stepped foot on campus and has seen several squads accomplish post season success. The Miami football team advanced to the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl and nearly upset SEC powerhouse Mississippi State (L, 17-16) as the RedHawks competed in their first bowl game since 2010. Hockey made the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed in 2014-15, field hockey has made five straight MAC Championship games and downed Stanford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2017, softball upset Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament back in 2015-16 and volleyball has advanced to two straight NCAA Tournaments.
Next on that list is to not just graduate, but graduate in an impressive way. In the last five years, Miami has recorded at least a 3.20 grade-point average each semester. Back in 2013-14 the RedHawks captured the MAC Academic Achievement Award and Miami has continued to excel, posting a career-best 3.33 GPA in the fall of 2017. In that same span, nearly 400 student athletes have recorded a perfect 4.00 semester GPA.
Most recently Sayler has given new support to both of Miami’s basketball programs, hiring Jack Owens to take over the reins of men’s basketball, while Megan Duffy establishes new leadership for women’s basketball. In just their first seasons respectively, both coaches surpassed last year’s win total for each program, qualified for post season play and brought new energy to Millett Hall that has not been seen in some time.
Prior to joining Miami, Sayler served as the Director of Athletics at South Dakota for two years. As South Dakota’s Athletic Director, Sayler emphasized the improvement of the student-athlete’s overall experience and instilling a renewed sense of pride in Coyote athletics. Among his accomplishments were securing USD’s 2012 membership in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and leading the way for USD’s aggressive Master Facilities Plan, which included new facilities for basketball, outdoor track and field, and soccer. Sayler secured a $20 million private gift, the largest single contribution in South Dakota athletics history. He also raised funds for a new basketball floor, which was introduced in 2011-12, and football turf, which made its debut in the fall of 2012.
Coyote student-athletes thrived in the classroom during Sayler’s time at South Dakota, posting a grade-point average of over 3.1. USD won the Summit League’s Institutional Academic Achievement Award in 2011-12, which goes to the school that has the highest percentage of list-eligible athletes on the Summit League Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence.
Prior to joining USD, Sayler served as Senior Executive Athletic Director at Rice University for four years, while also heading the department as Interim Athletic Director from October 2009 to March 2010. He was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the entire athletic department, directly overseeing all internal operations, as well as providing administrative oversight for all 16 of Rice’s varsity sports. He also assisted with the development of a strategic plan for Rice Athletics and served as the administrator of that plan for the department. Sayler also was a key figure in several facility projects across campus. He directed the funding model, planning and building of a $26 million renovation of Autry Court, as well as the $41 million construction of a recreation center.
Sayler also has served two years in senior athletic administration at Oregon State University and four years at Bowling Green State University. In addition, he has been an integral part of the athletic staffs at the University of Houston, the University of Hartford, the University of Georgia and the University of Connecticut, where he earned a master’s degree in 1996.
After graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University (1991) with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, Sayler worked three years in the private sector, spending time with Ernst & Young in Cleveland and Peterson Consulting in Chicago.
Sayler was inducted into the Miami Valley High School (class of 1987) Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.
Sayler, born Sept. 6, 1969 in Greenwich, Conn., is married to the former Katie Fitzgerald of Bowling Green, Ohio.
The couple has two sons, Connor Jameson (11) and Liam Patrick (8).