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Raiders' Sayre lands award as AD of the year

ASHLAND — Southern Oregon University's Matt Sayre has been named one of 28 National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics' 2015-16 Under Armour AD of the Year Award winners, spanning seven divisions of collegiate athletics across the country.

Sayre, in his sixth year as SOU's athletic director, will be recognized at the NACDA's 51st annual convention on June 15 in Dallas.

The award is given to athletic directors based on their "commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities," according to the NACDA office.

In 2015, Sayre became SOU's first Cascade Conference Athletic Director of the Year since 1996 after helping every Raider program advance to postseason play for the first time in school history, introducing the first two new sports at SOU since 2000, overseeing two major facility renovation projects and helping SOU break athletics fundraising records for the third year in a row.

Sparked by the school's first national football title, Sayre led the Raiders to their highest-ever finish in the NAIA Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings in 2015 at No. 6 — also the top finish ever by an institution representing the CCC.

SOU's ascent in the national ranks directly correlates with the appointment of Sayre, who spent 18 months as the interim athletic director before taking over in May 2010. In the five years prior to him taking over, the Raiders' finishes in the Directors' Cup were 88th, 47th, 57th, 100th and 92nd; in the last five years, SOU has taken 29th, 27th, 18th, 32nd and sixth.

This year, SOU is on pace for another record-breaking finish at No. 2 in the Directors' Cup standings after the fall season, and with four more winter programs currently qualified for their respective national tournaments.

The athletes at SOU had a combined grade-point average of 3.2 during the 2014-15 academic year.