BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Bill Maher was named Canisius College athletic director Tuesday, accepting the challenge of bringing stability to a department in transition.
A Canisius graduate and former Golden Griffins football player, Maher spent the past seven years as an athletic department administrator at the University at Buffalo -- including the last two as interim AD. He returns to Canisius, where he spent four years as an assistant athletic director for compliance in the 1990s.
Maher replaces Tim Dillon, who resigned in February after a Canisius investigation determined the Golden Griffins hockey team lacked supervision during a road trip to North Dakota last December. The investigation concluded that players were drunk when they damaged a hotel room during a party that left one player hurt, requiring stitches after cutting his foot and arm.
"I think the college did what it felt was the appropriate thing in addressing the situations and reacting to what turned out to be a difficult situation," said the 38-year-old Maher. "But it's one that they've put behind them and are looking to move forward."
Another challenge is continuing the transition Dillon began in 2002, when Canisius cut eight programs, including football, in an effort to streamline what had been an over-stretched department. While the money saved was reinvested into the 16 remaining programs, the cuts were not well-received by some within the athletic department and alumni.
One sign of progress came last March, when the Canisius women's basketball team earned its first NCAA Tournament berth.
Founded in 1870, Canisius is a midtown Buffalo Jesuit college with an enrollment of 3,440 students and is a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Maher backed the decision to cut programs and didn't foresee bringing back football, saying a small department like Canisius' can't afford to maintain a Division I team.
"I think there's opportunity here without a doubt," Maher said. "And with that opportunity, there's expectation, too. There's the expectation that the program will continue to move forward."
The Rev. Vincent Cooke, Canisius president, said Maher's familiarity with the school and his experience in overseeing a much larger department at Buffalo were deciding factors.
"I think he's a uniter," Cooke said. "We made a lot of progress in the last five years, and I think Bill will be building on that."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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