Bio: Diana Sabau (Say-bo) was named Utah State’s Vice President and Director of Athletics on Aug. 7, 2023, by University President Elizabeth Cantwell.
Sabau joined Utah State after spending two-plus years as the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Sports Officer for the Big Ten Conference, where she oversaw the administration of all 28 sponsored sports, which included managing affiliate memberships, competition, scheduling, championships, sportsmanship, officiating and awards. The role, created in 2021, made Sabau the first Big Ten Conference chief sports officer in the 125-year history of the league.
Sabau also provided departmental oversight of football, basketball, hockey, Olympic sports and officiating administration for the Big Ten.
Prior to joining the Big Ten, Sabau served as Senior Deputy Athletics Director for Ohio State University, which is one of the nation’s most successful and comprehensive athletics programs with 36 fully funded varsity sports and more than 1,000 student-athletes. Within her tenure, she served as sport administrator for football, women’s ice hockey and the co-ed rifle and pistol programs.
During her four years as sport administrator for Ohio State football, the team won four-consecutive Big Ten championships, participated in the college football playoffs and garnered numerous academic accolades and achievements.
Sabau reinvigorated and redefined Ohio State’s women’s ice hockey program. As sport administrator, she conducted a thorough national search and recruited Minnesota assistant coach and Golden Gopher all-time leading scorer Nadine Muzerall as Buckeye head coach. With Sabau as program administrator, Muzerall was twice named coach of the year in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA), first in 2018, and, again in 2020. In 2018, the Buckeyes received an at-large bid to the NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament and advanced to their first-ever NCAA Women’s Frozen Four.
In 2020, Ohio State’s women’s ice hockey team achieved its best season ever, advancing to the NCAA Women’s Frozen Four for the second time under Muzerall, and winning the first WCHA championship for the program. Though this automatically qualified the Buckeyes for the 2020 NCAA Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament, it was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the team received an at-large bid for the 2021 Women’s Ice Hockey Tournament. Further, every single member of Muzerall’s team earned the OSU Scholar-Athlete (grade-point average of 3.0+) distinction in 2020 and again in 2021.
Sabau was also responsible for revenue generation and accountable for an unprecedented, multi-million-dollar partnership agreement with Nike and the university. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she demonstrated steady leadership and forward-thinking, closing a multi-million-dollar term extension between concessionaire Levy Restaurants and the university.
As television liaison for Ohio State’s athletic department, Sabau was responsible for bringing ESPN “College GameDay Built by The Home Depot” back to campus on select game days for live, remote pre-game coverage.
Also, as deputy director, Sabau coordinated Ohio State’s overall athletics brand messaging and managed partnership agreements with Learfield IMG College, NIKE, Gatorade, CBS digital, Coke and the Big Ten Network. Further, she oversaw the departments of ticket office, out-bound ticket sales, fan experience and promotions, marketing and social media, video services, as well as the OhioStateBuckeyes.com website. Her deputy director responsibilities included athletics brand messaging coordination, strategic planning, maximizing partnerships for the student-athlete experience, tracking trends in technology for business advancement and public relations.
As department liaison with Ohio State’s office of the president, Sabau worked with its chief of staff and communications team to develop collaborative and wide-range messaging and crisis management plans. She provided student-athlete advocacy and insight to influence policy decisions made by the senior management council, a collective that included leaders from government affairs, the office of the general counsel, student life, communications and marketing, business and finance, talent and culture, administration and planning, as well as leaders from select academic departments.
Sabau was a member of the executive team for the Columbus Local Organizing Committee that planned and hosted the 2018 Women’s NCAA Final Four. Chief among her responsibilities were ticket sales, budgeting, student-athlete engagement and fan experience and promotions.
Sabau is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and Women Leaders in College Sports (womenleadersincollegesports.org) and serves on the Executive Board for Women Leaders in College Sports. She was also recently appointed to the John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors. Through participation in the McKinsey Institute professional development program, she holds certificates in enterprise agility, change leadership, centered leadership, and executive transitions.
She earned a master’s in sports administration from Ohio University, a bachelor’s degree from St. Bonaventure University and attended Oxford University, Somerville College. Sabau and her husband, Jamie, have two children.