The Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Council of Presidents has announced the hiring of Jay Gardiner to the position of conference commissioner. Gardiner, who currently serves as athletic director for Oglethorpe, has been working as the interim SAA commissioner since the league’s inception in June 2011. He will finish the current academic year at Oglethorpe before assuming the SAA commissioner’s appointment this spring.
“We’re thrilled to hire Jay as the Southern Athletic Association’s first league commissioner,” said convener of the Council of SAA Presidents and current Oglethorpe University president Lawrence M. Schall. “His extensive background working in college athletics at all levels of the NCAA made him a natural choice. While I regret losing Jay as Oglethorpe’s athletic director, I know through personal experience that he will provide the leadership we need for our new conference.”
Since his appointment as Oglethorpe’s athletic director in 2004, Gardiner has overseen facilities upgrades and funding improvements for all 16 Division III varsity sports. Prior to Oglethorpe, Gardiner spent nine years in Division I as associate athletic director for Tulane University and Miami University (Ohio). While serving as a member of their athletic departments’ management teams, Gardiner was responsible for leading their athletics fundraising efforts, raising in excess of $35 million during his tenure.
Earlier in his career, Gardiner was athletic director at Division II Bellarmine University in Kentucky and Division III St. Mary’s College of Maryland where he coached men’s basketball and women’s tennis. In 1991, after his St. Mary’s men’s basketball team captured the conference title, he was recognized as the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) coach of the year. He served as president of the CAC in 1992-93.
Gardiner is a 1979 graduate of McDaniel College and earned a master’s degree from Bowie State in 1988.
“I am extremely excited to help guide the Southern Athletic Association as we begin play next fall,” said Gardiner. “The league includes eight of the best liberal arts colleges in the southeast and two of the nation’s most prominent private universities. I look forward to representing each with integrity.”