LSSU names Diles new Athletic Director

Courtesy: Lake Superior State

Lake Superior State University has selected veteran collegiate athletics executive and Michigan native David L. Diles as its new director of athletics after conducting a national search. He succeeds Dr. David Paitson, who earlier resigned after four years to accept an assistant professor of sport management position at University of Indianapolis. Diles begins at LSSU on Aug. 2, 2021, and will oversee 11 Div. II teams in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and a Div. I men’s hockey team in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

A four-time NCAA athletic director over the past 26 years, Diles comes to LSSU from the Virginia Military Institute, a Division I institution with 18 varsity sports. In eight years running the program, he has played key roles in increasing student-athlete GPA from 2.55 to 2.88, establishing an initiative to recruit athletes with exceptional academic backgrounds, growing the scholarship budget by more than 70 percent, supporting VMI’s efforts in raising tens of millions of dollars for athletics, erasing an inherited debt of nearly $1.5 million, assisting the VMI Foundation’s efforts to augment the department endowment from $31 million to $72 million through new gifts and market adjustment, renovating athletics facilities, and winning several conference sportsmanship awards.

“My wife, Suzanne, and I are thrilled to be returning to our home state and to be joining an institution that we believe in and a leadership team that made a profoundly positive impression. Both of our adult children, Matthew and daughter-in-law Heather, and Mitchell will be frequent visitors to Sault Ste. Marie, MI,” said Diles. “President Dr. Rodney S. Hanley and Provost Dr. Lynn G. Gillette as chair of the search committee provided a clear and compelling vision of the vital role intercollegiate athletics can play in the advancement of the university. In addition, my familiarity with the GLIAC and the CCHA will allow for a quick transition. I’m honored to accept this appointment and looking forward to working with the department’s coaches, staff, and, most importantly, the student-athletes.”

Other career credits include director of athletics and chair of the physical education department at the Div. III Case Western Reserve University (2005-13). During his tenure, student-athlete graduation rate was 92 percent, the program GPA was 3.39, and there were 37 Academic All-Americans. Numerous teams earned NCAA Championship berths. The program also raised millions of dollars for equipment, renovations, construction, and staffing.  As athletic director at the Div. I Eastern Michigan University (1995-2005), Diles helped increase the graduation rate of student-athletes to 60 percent, boost their GPA from 2.6 to 3.05, rebalance gender equity in favor of more female participation, create a student-athlete code of conduct, and raise unprecedented external funding. The program won 21 conference championships. At the Div. I St. Bonaventure University (1995-99), Diles as vice president/director of athletics spearheaded an equity plan applauded by The Chronicle of Higher Education, started a radio network for coverage, and raised millions of dollars.

Earlier jobs included assistant director of athletics at Auburn University (1991-94) and Central Michigan University (1989-91). He also served as director of athletics at Dexter Community Schools (1987-89). Diles was an assistant director of public relations for the New York Jets of the National Football League in 1984. Author of numerous articles in professional journals and member of numerous conference and NCAA committees, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master of sports administration from Ohio University and a doctorate of education from University of Michigan.

“David Diles was easily our top candidate for many reasons,” said LSSU President Hanley. “He is a highly experienced administrator with more than 25 years of work as a NCAA director of athletics and comprehensive leadership in institutional, conference, and national governance work in athletics. And he has considerable experience in growing programs, supervising capital projects, and fundraising. The list of his accomplishments is very lengthy, but perhaps the thing we were most impressed with is his record of ethical leadership at the various places he has served.”