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Dave Diles, whose dad was a familiar name to college football fans, is known for his fundraising.
Dave Diles is introduced as VMI’s new athletic director at a news conference Monday in Lexington.
The late Dave Diles, the father of VMI’s new AD, hosted ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”
Monday, September 9, 2013
LEXINGTON — There will soon be a new name next to “athletic director” in the VMI staff directory.
But it will be a familiar one to many college football fans.
Dave Diles, who was introduced as VMI’s new athletic director at a news conference Monday, is the son of the late ABC sportscaster Dave Diles.
Diles would sometimes get to be in the ABC studios when his father hosted the “Prudential College Football Scoreboard Show.”
The elder Diles was also part of ABC’s coverage of the Olympics, auto racing and golf, as well as serving as a host of “Wide World of Sports.” He also was a local sports anchor in Detroit, and once tearfully phoned his young son to break the news that the boy’s favorite Detroit Red Wings player had been traded.
Diles was with his famous father in the Olympic Village at the 1976 Montreal Olympics when they met the late artist LeRoy Neiman.
Years later, when Diles was the athletic director at St. Bonaventure, he called Neiman when St. Bonaventure needed art for its hall of fame building.
“That’s what I’m willing to do, stick my chin out there a little,” Diles said in an interview after the news conference. “I’m not afraid to reach for the brass ring.
“I called LeRoy Neiman and he didn’t remember me, but he remembered the name. The name [of the elder Diles] meant something.”
Diles was named VMI’s AD last week. He will start work at VMI next month, although Donny White will remain athletic director until White retires Nov. 16.
Diles, 52, has been the athletic director at NCAA Division III member Case Western Reserve since 2005. He was previously the AD at two Division I schools — St. Bonaventure (1994 to 1999) and Eastern Michigan (1999 to 2005).
“I’ve always been at a program where it’s been resource-challenged — in fact, the lowest rung of the resource ladder within the conference,” he said. “I’m not easily discouraged.”
VMI, which has a $10 million athletic budget, has one of the smallest enrollments (1,650 students) in FCS football. That doesn’t give VMI a big pot of student fees to help fund athletics, nor does it give the school a large alumni base to hit up for donations.
The Keydet Club, which has 2,769 members, raised a record $5.1 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year. By comparison, the Hokie Club has 9,674 members and raised $22.8 million in 2012-13.
“The most important factor in this [VMI] job right now is going to be fundraising,” said former Virginia Tech athletic director Dave Braine, who was a consultant to the VMI search committee. “They need somebody who can come in and fundraise, and he’s got a very good background in fundraising. He’s done a tremendous job at Case.”
Braine, who was once a VMI assistant football coach, has known Diles since the time when St. Bonaventure and Tech were Atlantic 10 rivals.
“This is a very difficult job,” Braine said. “I think it’ll work out.”
They Keydets have not had a winning football season since 1981, although they did go 6-6 in both 2002 and 2003.
“They have to start winning and he’s got a background in turning [athletic] programs around,” Braine said.
Eastern Michigan never had a winning football season when Diles was the AD. That school’s last winning season was in 1995.
St. Bonaventure does not have football. Case Western Reserve has made the Division III football playoffs three times since Diles became its AD.
VMI Superintendent J.H. Binford Peay III said the school wanted a “seasoned” athletic director.
“He’s been at Division III, he’s been at Division I. He had exposure that would allow him to fit very well in what I think’s the toughest athletic director job in the country,” Peay said.
Diles has never worked at a military school, but Peay said Diles has “the breadth of intelligence to quickly pick up on that.” Diles’ son Matthew is in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Diles, who was one of six finalists for the job, agreed to a four-year contract with a $150,000 annual salary.
He was a finalist for the AD job at Division II Northern Michigan last year.
Diles has been an assistant AD at Central Michigan and Auburn.
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