• In the 2014-15 school year, UD won A-10 titles in women’s soccer, volleyball and softball.
• The Flyers’ combined cumulative GPA is 3.305.
• External fundraising rose to $6.7 million in 2014-15.
Tim Wabler visited the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., in March for the first time since he was a kid.
The Dayton women’s basketball team played Connecticut that night in the Elite Eight 90 minutes away in Albany. Wabler, Dayton’s Director of Athletics, had some time to kill, and he’s a big baseball fan.
Wabler explored the museum like a kid in a candy store, or like the three-time UD pitcher of the year he was in the early 1970s. He had bigger reasons to smile, too. His athletic department, at that moment, was on top of the world. In the 2014-15 school year, the UD athletic program reached new heights, with the men’s and women’s basketball programs earning most of the headlines but other programs excelling as well.
That makes the news Tuesday that Wabler will retire as UD vice president and AD at the beginning of September surprising in one respect and understandable in another. He’s going to miss the job, but he’s going out on top.
Just two months ago, Wabler won an Under Armour AD of the Year Award from The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
“You’ve got two Elite Eight runs back to back,” Wabler said. “You’ve got a men’s basketball program that’s operating at a level where it hasn’t operated for years and arguably has never operated when you look at back-to-back multiple wins in the NCAA tournament. You’ve got a women’s basketball program that frankly every year that it does something in the NCAA tournament it adds to another record. Then you add on top of it the number of championships (in other sports) we’ve had, that’s probably what I’m most proud of.”
Wabler, 63, was named AD in 2008, becoming the first Dayton native to get that job. Prior to that, he worked for 15 years as an associate director of athletics. He graduated from Dayton in 1974.
“I think I’ve always wanted to have the opportunity to enjoy retirement in good health,” Wabler said. “I started thinking more and more about it toward the end of last year. You start walking into these meetings and listening nationally to what’s going on in intercollegiate athletics. I think I’ve used the term sea change. There is certainly going to be some significant changes. I really thought it made a lot of sense for my successor to be in that role so he or she could decide how we go into the future and makes those decisions.”
With all the success Dayton has had in many different sports in recent years, Wabler might still be remembered years from now as the guy who hired Archie Miller. Miller had no head coaching experience when UD hired him in 2011.
“My family, we’ve always been eternally grateful to Tim for his trust,” Miller said. “He’s been a great friend, and so has his wife Arlene throughout my tenure. When you’ve spent as much time as he has with the university, to go out on your own, feeling good, not a lot of people have that opportunity.”
Miller knows Wabler faced a tough decision when Brian Gregory left for Georgia Tech. Miller was 32 at the time.
“Looking back on it now, knowing what I do, he could have gone a lot of different directions,” Miller said. “For whatever reason, we were able to connect. My job is to keep this thing going.”
Wabler’s departure leaves UD with two big hires to make in the next year. Dr. Dan Curran, UD’s president, will step down in June 2016. He said he wants to move as fast as possible in finding a replacement for Wabler. Conversations have already begun, but the process will continue with a meeting today.
“We’re going out during a period where the program is really highly thought of in every possible way,” Curran said. “We do things the right way. We have a lot of strong candidates we will look at.”
Curran said Wabler will be hard to replace.
“I would have tried to pitch him on staying as long as I am, but he clearly was happy with this,” Curran said. “He’s proud of what he’s done. The university is proud of what he’s done. The president is very proud.”