ORONO — New University of Maine Athletic Director Jude Killy choked up during his introductory media conference Tuesday afternoon while thanking his boss at Miami University.

“David has pushed me. He has mentored me,” Killy said of Miami Athletic Director David Sayler. “Everybody should be so lucky to have somebody like that.”

Killy, 50, was hired last week and will start his new job at UMaine on Jan. 30 with a five-year contact worth $250,000 annually. He has been at Miami University in Ohio since 2008, spending the last four years as the deputy director of athletics and chief of staff under Sayler. He brings more than 20 years of experience working in college athletics.

Killy comes to Maine as the school is in the early stages of a decade-long plan to upgrade its athletic facilities, spearheaded by a $90 million gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation. The university is in the process of raising an additional $20 million for the projects, which include a new softball field, new basketball arena on campus, and renovations to Alfond Arena. At Miami, Killy helped secure cash gifts to the athletic department between $4 million and $6 million, three of the largest donations to the department.

The best career advice Sayler gave him, Killy said, is to focus on progress over perfection. If it takes a month to make a decision, the other decisions you need to make will get backed up. It’s better to make 10 decisions and hit on seven, as long as you’re moving forward, Killy said.

“I think in everything, there’s opportunity,” Killy said. “The opportunity with the facilities here could be transformational. I think the bones of the department are good. There are really good people here. The reputations of the coaches, the support staff, the human resource piece you can’t replace. That was really enticing.”


In seeking financial contributions at UMaine, Killy said he needs to get to know the donors before extending his hand for gifts.

“Establish relationships with people and understand donor intent. Everything we do has to be driven be donor intent. So that’s what we’re going to find out. Who wants to be involved and why they want to be involved and how we can push that forward together,” Killy said.

Killy said a few things attracted him to the Maine job. One is the chance to be a part of  facilities improvements, something he was involved with at Miami.

“At Miami we probably renovated 10, 12 facilities,” he said. “When you see a shovel in the ground, when people start to see bricks being built and stacked up, the energy’s palpable. You can carry that momentum. It’s really meaningful. That definitely was a big part of my interest.”

Another thing Killy liked about UMaine was its status as the only NCAA Division I athletic program in the state.

“I know there’s a lot of other wonderful academic institutions in the state of Maine, but having that presence, that pomp and circumstance being Division I, that’s a positive,” Killy said.


Killy’s attention to detail was a big selling point with the search committee for a new AD, said Joan Ferrini-Mundy, the University of Maine president.

“He had outstanding questions, deep thoughtful careful questions of me. That meant to me that he really could envision himself in the job and was trying to dig in and find a way to make a connection with the program,” said Ferrini-Mundy, who introduced Killy to the media, coaches and student athletes on Tuesday.

“With him, he has substantial fundraising background, that was a high priority for us. We have a very strong fundraising team already, and I think he’ll just bring value added as he comes into that.”

Killy is the Black Bears’ ninth athletic director, including three interim ADs, since 2003. He replaces Ken Ralph, who left at the end of the summer when his contract expired to take the same job at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

Killy said he thinks UMaine can be a destination rather than a stopover point, for both coaches and administrators like himself. He pointed at his 14 years at Miami and six years at the University of Pittsburgh before that as proof of his ability to stay in one place and see things through. UMaine brings the career opportunities he’s been looking for, Killy said, making it the right place at the right time.

His visit to Orono for his on-campus interview was his first time in Maine.

“I didn’t need to find another job,” Killy said. “I have a great boss currently. I had a great job at Miami. Frankly, it took some of the pressure off so I could find the right thing for me.”

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