Ken Tyler is beginning his fifth year as Director of Athletics at the University of Mary Washington. In a short time, Tyler has brought about numerous positive changes to the athletic department, with a vision that will lead the Eagles to a premier place among NCAA Division III institutions. In just four years at the helm at UMW, Tyler has overseen many positive changes in the department of athletics.
Coach Tyler celebrates with the women's basketball team after they claimed the 2016 CAC Championship at Marymount University.
Tyler spearheaded several new positions, including the addition of a full time strength and conditioning coach, an equipment manager, and splitting the volleyball and softball coaching positions in his first two years alone. Tyler has hired five full-time coaches, and also begun an assistant coach program, which is already at 12 assistants, to aid UMW's coaches and staff, with four programs already attaining full-time assistants. Every program has gained either a full-time or intern assistant, with the move toward full-time assistants across the department. The addition of a full time Director of Athletic Development has also been a boon to fundraising and promotional activity.
Tyler has led significant improvements in facilities, from renovations of the Anderson Center lobby and all athletic offices, creation and upgrades to the varsity weight room, and creation of the student-athlete lounge. In addition, Tyler spearheaded the purchase of new, expanded bleacher seating on the lacrosse/field hockey field, and acquisition of the Stone House on campus for sole athletic use. The completion of a new track and field facility in fall 2016 will give the Eagles one of the finest facilities on the East Coast.
In all, UMW has claimed 21 CAC Championships, seen 19 teams advance to NCAA Championship competition, and hosted seven NCAA Tournament events on campus in the past four years. Tyler had an eventful first year in 2012-13 in leading the Eagles to the 2012-13 Capital Athletic Conference all-sports award, as field hockey advanced to the NCAA Division III Final Four. In his second year, the Eagles won five CAC Championships, with men's basketball advancing to and hosting the "sweet 16" and "elite eight" rounds of the NCAA Tournament at a sold-out Anderson Center. Alex Anderson won four individual national championships in the past four years.
Tyler’s initiatives while at UMW have included an expansive corporate partner program, which currently extends to more than 20 partners. Tyler initiated a partnership with Nike and BSN for apparel and footwear, and in 2015 gained a naming gift from Ron Rosner for the basketball/volleyball arena. In addition, the department began the Eagle Club, with more than 450 members, which raised tens of thousands of dollars to strengthen and support the entire athletic department through the beginning of an annual gala. This year's event saw UMW alumnus and Kansas City Royals Assistant GM Jin Wong as guest speaker. Redskins greats Darrell Green, Alfred Morris, and DeAngelo Hall have also attended in past years as special guests. Green, who was brought on in an administrative role by Tyler, raised the profile of the department on a national scale.
Tyler’s initiative of providing added support to student-athletes with regards to academics has proven quite successful, as the department improved to boast a 3.0 grade-point average across the department in the fall of 2014, and has maintained that average in each of the past four semesters. In 2015, Claire Harrington was named as a first team Academic All-American by CoSIDA, and Haley Kane won both the 2014 and 2015 National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s National Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Under Tyler’s guidance, the UMW athletic department has become a familiar and friendly ally in the community. Student-athletes have performed a myriad of projects in the community, from reading and sharing with school children, to working with Special Olympics athletes, to raising funds for cancer research and Alzheimer’s awareness. The relationship between the department and local cancer patient Wesley Berry through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation has become most meaningful in the lives of not only Wesley and his family, but also in the lives of every UMW student-athlete. In addition, Tyler has been published in Athletics Management magazine with a feature on community involvement.
Tyler had previously served as Director of Athletics at West Virginia Wesleyan College since July of 2008, overseeing the largest athletic department in the state of West Virginia, with over 500 student-athletes and 19 varsity sports. While in Buckhannon, Tyler's programs swept the President's and Commissioner's Cups for overall athletic excellence in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference each year of his tenure.
At WVWC, he added the sport of women's lacrosse and created the position of Director of Compliance and Academic Services, and made facility improvements for department offices, stadium, arena, locker rooms, and baseball, softball, and soccer fields. In addition, he created a student-athlete lounge and academic support area. Other improvements made under Tyler's tenure included the acquisition of a 25-passenger bus with a professional driver to replace coach-driven 15-passenger vans, and the institution of mandatory institutional drug-testing for randomly selected student-athletes.
Tyler's strategic plan included adding full-time assistant coach positions for team sports, and launching a new athletics web site. The success of the programs were immediate, as the football team improved from 1-10 during Tyler's first year to 9-2 in 2010 and 2011, including undefeated records at home both seasons. The men's basketball team went from eight wins in 2010 to 19 wins and the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the second-biggest turnaround in Division II. In 2012, the Bobcat women's basketball team finished 23-7, won its first-ever WVIAC tournament championship and received the program's first-ever NCAA tournament berth. The 2011-12 men's basketball team finished 22-9, and won Wesleyan's first-ever NCAA tournament game.
With Tyler at the helm, Wesleyan won 22 WVIAC championships. In 2010-11, the Bobcats finished #76 nationally in the Division II Learfield Director's Cup standings, the best finish in school history and tops in the WVIAC. That same year, Wesleyan finished fifth in the nation in student-athletes recognized on the Academic Honor Roll of the Division II Athletic Directors Association. The Bobcats have also been extremely active in community engagement activities.
Tyler served on the Division II Athletic Directors Association (ADA) Board of Directors as the WVIAC representative. He was also the Atlantic Region Chair on the Division II National Men's Basketball Committee. He has served as vice-chair of WVIAC athletic directors and served as chair of the WVIAC Basketball Tournament Committee. He arrived at Wesleyan after a seven-year stay at Shepherd University, where he served as Head Men's Basketball Coach and Assistant Athletic Director.
Prior to his time at Shepherd, Tyler spent six years at Albright (PA) College, serving as the Head Men's Basketball coach and Assistant Director of Athletics. He also had one-year stints as assistant men's basketball coach at East Stroudsburg University (PA), Roanoke (VA) College and James Madison University under legendary coach "Lefty" Driesell.
An aggressive and successful fund raiser, Tyler spearheaded significant facility upgrade campaigns at Shepherd and Albright. At Wesleyan, he launched the Corporate Partner Program, the Letterman's Club, and the Hank Ellis Golf Classic, which raised over $75,000 annually for Wesleyan athletics. Tyler was an active board member in the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, serving as campaign chairman from 2006-08 and raising over $3 million.
Tyler’s career coaching record of 193-157 includes 87-64 at Albright, highlighted by the 1998 conference championship, and 106-93 at Shepherd, a 34-win improvement over the seven year period before he arrived.
Tyler has a growing number of former assistants and players who have gone on to successful careers in coaching, including Justin Namolik, head coach at Shepherd University (WV), Marcus Kahn, head coach at UMW, Timothy Redding, head coach at Penn State-Berks, Chad Myers, head coach at Massanutten Military Academy; Gene McAteer, head coach at Bridgewater-Raritan HS (NJ), Danley Shank, head coach at Shalom Christian Academy (PA), Duncan Williams, assistant coach at Alderson-Broaddus College (WV), and Fred Lymas, assistant coach at Berry University (Fla.). In addition, Tyler hired Jeff Price as the head basketball coach at West Virginia Wesleyan, who is now the head coach at Lynn University; Jim Boone, now the head coach at Delta State, and Patrick Beilein, currently the head coach at LeMoyne.
Tyler earned a bachelor of arts in history and a master's degree in education from The College of William and Mary. He was a guard on the basketball team at Division I William and Mary, where he played against all-time greats Len Bias and David Robinson.
Tyler is an avid reader and a Civil War enthusiast. An active leader in the community, Tyler is a member of the Rappahannock Rotary Club, and frequently speaks on campus and in the community. He is a member of NACDA, and a member of the NCAA Division III national men's basketball committee. In winter 2015, he took the reigns as the chair of the Capital Athletic Conference Board of Directors. He and his wife, Dr. Dawn Tyler, have two children, son Jordan (18) and daughter Logan (15).