David Sayler: Boldly going where no Miami AD has gone before
What's Going Downey
Published: Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 02:10
David Sayler understood that sometimes boldness is needed, and the Miami University football team needed boldness.
Sayler made a move no Miami athletic director has ever done; he fired a football coach mid-way through the season.
In a way, there was poetic justice in the move. Don Treadwell, anything but bold in his demeanor and play-calling, was fired in the boldest move an AD can make.
It’s never good to see such a move, but it had to be done. Treadwell went 8-21 during his time at Miami and his last win was an upset victory over then-ranked Ohio University Oct. 27, 2012. That’s just not good enough for the Cradle of Coaches.
Sayler has never shied away from the bold decision. He fired women’s basketball coach Maria Fantanarosa after a disappointing season and just one Mid-American Conference (MAC) title in 15 years. He hired a 29-year-old baseball coach in Danny Hayden. Most importantly, he has grand plans for Miami athletic facilities, which are lacking compared to other MAC schools.
Sayler came to Miami from South Dakota with a background in fundraising, including a $20 million donation, the largest in the school’s athletic history.
He’s hit the ground running, as Miami set a record for cash donations in a single year. I suspect that won’t be the only time the record is broken during Sayler’s tenure.
The fundraising Sayler is doing will pay for much-needed upgrades to Millett Hall, Yager Stadium and the construction of an indoor practice facility. The practice facility is something Miami has needed for a long time, but was something that never got off the ground. When he first took over, Sayler said it seemed like Miami never had a master plan; it changed whenever a new coach came in. That’s changed now that it’s Sayler’s show.
All of these changes reflect a culture change at Miami. The well-being of the student-athletes will always be the No. 1 priority, but winning and competing for MAC titles is no longer just desired; it is expected.
Fantanarosa and Treadwell, although good people, didn’t win and were let go.
The moves reflecting the culture change aren’t just negative ones though. Tennis head coach Anca Dumitrescu received a new contract from Sayler that will keep her in Oxford through the 2015-2016 season. The extension was likely due to Miami losing just one regular season MAC match since she took over. Hockey head coach Enrico Blasi also received a new contract from Sayler. The 10-year deal will keep Blasi at his alma mater through 2022-2023 season. The moves reward two of the best coaches at Miami for winning.
Miami has won MAC titles in the past, and will win more in the future. But in football, the banner sport for most schools, Miami has struggled. Usually, it’s football that gets the most media attention, the most public attention and donor attention. Yet Miami has just one winning season since 2006.
There is no reason Miami should not be competing for a MAC title in football every year. Ohio is a hot-bed for talented recruits and Sayler needs to find the right coach to mold those players into a team that can compete and win. It’s now the expectation.