New AD Diana Sabau “is the leader for this moment” – Cache Valley Daily

Utah State athletic director Diana Sabau speaks during her introductory press conference in the Perry Pavilion in Huntsman Hall on Aug. 10, 2023

LOGAN — In front of a standing room-only crowd in the Perry Pavilion on the fourth floor of Huntsman Hall, newly sworn in Utah State University President Elizabeth Cantwell introduced her fellow newcomer, Athletic Director Diana Sabau.

“For many of you this may be the first time that I have met with you or that you have seen me speak,” said Cantwell. “And I can think of no more important time to be the first time to address you than introducing our new athletics director.”

To the assembled crowd, Cantwell expressed her gratitude to many different individuals and groups. Among those she specifically thanked was Jerry Bovee, who served as interim AD and has now gone back to his previous post of deputy athletic director.

Utah State University President Elizabeth Cantwell addressing the crowd before introducing new USU athletic director Diana Sabau on Aug. 10, 2023

“I want to…thank Jerry Bovee for an amazing job as interim during this petty fraught period for the university,” said Cantwell. “I can’t tell you how much I am grateful, Jerry, for the service that you provided. And I know that all of athletics stood behind you and really worked to ensure the success of our student-athletes.”

When Cantwell went on to introduce the new athletic director, she said that Sabau “has the skills. She has the experience” to lead the Aggies in a volatile era of collegiate athletics. Sabau previously worked as Big Ten deputy commissioner and before that, deputy athletic director at Ohio State under Gene Smith.

“In my mind she is the leader for this moment,” said Cantwell. “There are many challenges that await her and that await us. All you have to do is look at what’s happening in conference realignment to know we are at a very interesting moment in history.”

In her turn to speak, Sabau began by expressing gratitude befitting the situation, thanking the university “for your trust and your belief” and promising that “together, we will build USU athletics and the university.”

Sabau also gave thanks to Bovee and Executive Associate AD Amy Crosbie for their work in spanning the gap between former AD John Hartwell and herself.

A crowd of Aggie fans, supporters, current USU athletes and media watch as USU administrators introduce new athletic director Diana Sabau.

“I am thankful as many of you are, for the leadership of Jerry Bovee and Amy Crosbie,” said Sabau. “They worked tirelessly to make sure that your athletics department moved forward in a purposeful, united manner. I greatly appreciate this and I’m indebted to you. Thank you.”

Sabau will officially take over as athletic director on Aug. 21.

Having spent most of her time in Big Ten country, the fact Sabau decided to come to USU was a bit of a puzzle to some. Sabau admitted that there were no connections between her and the university before now.

“I don’t have any ties to Utah State, but that’s what makes it even that more important and that more special,” said Sabau. “Because as I got more connected with the individuals on the search committee I became touched with their affinity to Utah State and how much they wanted to advance Aggie athletics. Obviously there’s tons of research and there’s a lot you can watch online, read online. But really, until I got here and I started walking around campus — I drove in last Friday — and I started to feel it. I started to feel the respect and the tradition of campus but yet a newness, a boldness that surrounded each corner.”

That Utah State was able to draw in a candidate like Sabau, who has spent the better part of the last decade at the forefront of athletics at Ohio State and in the Big Ten, without some sort of prior connection, is a testament to Utah State’s national brand. Cantwell said something along similar lines in her comments.

“I’m really proud that who we are and what we represent as an Aggie athletics community has attracted someone like Diana Sabau.”

Among the most pressing questions for Sabau is in regards to conference realignment. Utah State and the Mountain West, though not at the forefront of realignment talk, is very much involved. The effective dissolution of the Pac-12 (now down from twelve teams to four: Stanford, California, Oregon State and Washington State) has given the Mountain West a chance at expansion, potentially adding leftover Pac-12 schools. Sabau was asked about what may lay ahead for the Aggies and their conference.

“I have not received my crystal ball yet,” Sabau said, “but I can assure you that (Mountain West) commissioner (Gloria) Navarez is well-prepared, is gifted in her leadership. Our university presidents are in alignment. We’re looking at all options. Everything is on the table. Obviously it is changing daily, but the Mountain West is a strong brand. It is a competitive conference and everyone is looking at us right now to shine brightly.”

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