Diles Named AD at Lake Superior State

two men shaking hands

Dave Diles, Ed.D., VMI director of intercollegiate athletics, began a new position at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in August. Diles was VMI’s athletic director for eight years.—Chuck Steenburgh ’86 Photo courtesy VMI Keydets.

Dave Diles, Ed.D., VMI director of intercollegiate athletics, was named director of athletics at Lake Superior State University July 16, 2021. He began duties at the public university located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in August.

Diles guided VMI’s athletics for the past eight years since assuming the post of director of intercollegiate athletics in November 2013.

The most recent athletic campaign conducted through the pandemic was one of VMI’s most successful competitively. Keydet men’s sports teams collectively finished fourth in the Southern Conference Commissioner’s Cup, which is awarded annually to the top program in the league. It was VMI’s highest finish in over 30 years. Two coaches hired by Diles—Scott Wachenheim, football, and Dan Earl, basketball—were both named 2021 SoCon Coach of the Year for their respective sports, and Wachenheim was named FCS national coach of the year by two organizations.

VMI football also experienced a resurgence by capturing the SoCon football title last spring and attaining the program’s first-ever FCS national ranking and playoff appearance.

In 2019, the SoCon awarded VMI the conference’s D.S. McAlister Sportsmanship Award, presented annually to the member school to have exhibited the highest degree of sportsmanship.

Under Diles, VMI athletics saw marked improvement in athletic team GPA, APR scores, and retention. He also executed a turnaround in the athletic department finances, erasing a sizable budget deficit that he inherited his first year and operating in the black throughout his tenure.

While implementing department-wide structural and fiscal initiatives in 2014, VMI athletics under Diles signed a five-year apparel and footwear partnership with Under Armour—the first such agreement in school athletic history. The agreement has since been renewed. Diles also supported the growth of athletics events through video availability and streaming.

Diles guided the transition of VMI athletics back to its traditional conference home of the Southern Conference in 2014 after an 11-year stay in the Big South Conference. VMI had been a member of the SoCon since 1923 before heading to the Big South in July 2003. He also crafted the move to a new conference affiliation for men’s and women’s swimming in the American East Conference.

VMI athletics saw athletics facilities improvement under Diles, including the Corps Physical Training Facility, which houses men’s and women’s track and field and has hosted the SoCon Indoor Track and Field Championships since 2018. Other facility improvements included the renovation of Cormack Hall, which houses Keydet wrestling, and an expansive new strength and conditioning facility.

“I’ve been honored to serve as the director of intercollegiate athletics at VMI for eight years, and the cadet-athletes, coaches, and staff have made this a remarkable period in my professional career,” said Diles. “I’m indebted to General Peay [’62] for providing the opportunity, and I don’t believe that there has been an athletics director and college president more in agreement on the values, objectives, and educational outcomes desired through college sports. Outside of my parents, he has been one of the most influential people in my life, and working for him has been transformative both professionally and personally. Suzanne and I are thrilled to be returning to our home state and to accept a new challenge with deep affection for the good friends that we’ve made at the Institute. I wish the Board of Visitors, the dedicated VMI alumni community, and Major General Wins [’85] only the best in the years ahead.”

“Doctor Diles provided a firm foundation, guiding the department through the ever-changing landscape of college athletics and through a pandemic where all aspects of sports were impacted,” said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, VMI superintendent. “This year, Dave led VMI to compete and win across both the Southern Conference and the Commonwealth. He’s always demonstrated a keen respect for the Institute’s mission and set a high bar for professionalism and accountability. We extend our gratitude to him and wish him all the best.”

Editor’s Note: This article was first published at