Dick Sakala, who served as Union's first full-time director
of athletics from 1977 until his retirement in the spring of 2000, has returned
to Union as the associate interim athletic director. He will assist interim athletic director Dwight Wolf while a search
committee seeks a full-time director.
During his tenure at Union, Sakala was the architect of one
of the most successful Division III programs in the East. Union football and
swimming and diving teams were national contenders while the field hockey,
women's volleyball, men's lacrosse, baseball and softball teams enjoyed
postseason success within the ECAC and the New York State Women's Collegiate
Athletic Association. Union's men's ice hockey team was considered one of the
finest in the ECAC and the nation at the Division III level before moving into
the ECAC Division I Men's League in 1991.
A former president of the ECAC, Sakala served on the ECAC
Executive Council, the finance committee and was a member of several ECAC
Championships committees. He was also a member of the NCAA Division III
A driving force behind the formation of the Upstate
Collegiate Athletic Association in 1995 (now called the Liberty League), he
helped bring together eight of the finest private New York State small colleges
(Clarkson, Hamilton, Hobart/William Smith, St. Lawrence, Rensselaer, Rochester,
Skidmore, and Union). Several of the teams have enjoyed postseason success at
the state and national levels. He served as the conference's president during
the 1997-98 season.
Sakala oversaw the renovation of numerous Union athletic
facilities. During his tenure, Alumni Gym, Garis Field, Memorial Field House,
Alexander Field and Frank Bailey Field were all upgraded. For his contributions
to the school, Sakala was presented with the Alumni Association's Faculty
Meritorious Service Award in 1984. He
was awarded the 2002 Eastern College Athletic Conference Distinguished
Achievement Award, which is bestowed to an ECAC athletics administrator who has
achieved outstanding success in his or her career and has made significant
contributions in the interest of intercollegiate athletics.
A 1962 graduate of Columbia University, Sakala played
quarterback and defensive back for the 1961 Ivy League championship team. He
also played baseball for the Lions.