Murray State University has named Kevin Saal as the new Director of Athletics at an annual salary of $170,000. The Friday morning announcement is the culimulation of a nationwide, eight-month search.
Saal recently served as the executive associate athletic director at the University of Kentucky, where he’s worked since 2007. He previously served as University of Missouri-Kansas City Athletics Department director of operations, and Kansas State University event coordinator for several Big 12 Conference championships.
Saal has a masters in education and sports administration from the University of Kansas. He received his bachelor’s degree from Texas Christian University, where he was a letterwinner for three years on the school’s swimming and diving team.
“He wanted to be here. He really wanted to be here,” Murray State President Bob Jackson said. “We heard from the Southeastern Conference commissioner and some of his friends across the country. He’s going to do a great job here.”
Given Murray State’s tightening budget, Saal said prioritizing needs for athletics is something he did at the University of Kentucky and is comfortable doing in his new position.
“We’re going to prioritize our coaches and student-athletes first and foremost.” Saal said. “And what dollars can we spend to maximize the student-athlete experience first? Regardless of the numbers, you make decisions within your resources.”
Saal said while it’s too early to lay out a specific agenda, upgrading athletic facilities through alumni fundraising is one of his goals.
According to a release by Murray State University Department of Athletics, Saal helped lead the construction of a new $49 million University of Kentucky baseball park and renovation of the university’s football stadium.
Since 2005, the Racers have won 39 Ohio Valley Conference championships and played in the NCAA 29 times.
Murray State’s former athletics director Allen Ward resigned in July to take a job as director of athletics at Abilene Christian University. Murray State Women’s Golf Coach Velvet Milkman served as interim director during the search.