YORK, PA – York College of Pennsylvania is proud to announce that Paul Saikia has been selected as the new Assistant Dean for Athletics and Recreation. Saikia, who has been the Spartans' baseball coach for the last 24 years, has served as an Associate Athletic Director for the last ten years. Saikia was selected after an extensive national search filled with high caliber candidates.
Saikia has been serving as the Interim Director of Athletics since the departure of Sean Sullivan and will assume his new duties in June of 2011.
Dean of Student Affairs Joe Merkle believes that Saikia is the right choice to lead the Spartans into the future.
"Paul has been a successful and dedicated faculty member, administrator and coach for 24 years at York College and now will direct an ever-so-active, expansive, student life department. His experience, knowledge, and energy will serve our students and College community very well," states Merkle.
Saikia is excited for the challenge of serving the College in a more broad-based capacity.
"I am very excited for the opportunity to serve the College and our department on a wider scope," says Saikia. "Accepting the position was truly the result of a life-changing decision. I love York College--I have always felt fortunate to be here, and to make my living coaching baseball. I only make this change because I sense that I am moving on to something very special."
Merkle believes Saikia has the ability to enhance the experience of not only student-athletes but also all students that he works with through his new position.
"Paul is a motivated and energetic leader, and a very effective administrator. He brings a forward-thinking approach and winning attitude to the position as Assistant Dean, and his priority is advancing a positive student life experience for those involved in athletics and recreation," states Merkle.
Saikia is no stranger to success. His Spartan baseball program has earned three Capital Athletic Conference championships (1991, 1996, 1999) and nine NCAA Tournament appearances including back-to-back berths in 2009 and 2010. Saikia has a career record of 485-365-4 (.570) for his tenure and has been named the Capital Athletic Conference Coach-of-the-Year three times (1992, 1996, 1999).
The Spartans had their best season under Saikia's guidance in 2002 when they were one win away from earning a berth in the Division III College World Series. The Green and White finished the season with a school-record 34 wins and ended the year ranked 16th in the nation, the highest finish for a Spartan baseball squad.
Saikia will coach the remainder of the 2011 season before stepping away to focus on his new administrative duties. The process of identifying a replacement is already underway.
"It dawned on me the other day, that in my 24 years here as our baseball coach is only part of what I am letting go. The fact of the matter is that baseball has been an integral part of my life since I was eight years old. For forty years I have had 'a season'. For forty springs, I have developed the same blister on my thumb from throwing. For forty seasons, I've felt the rush of game day. So, yes, this is going to be a big change for me. I decided to coach because my playing career ended before I was ready for my life in baseball to become only recreational. Now, even my teammates who went on to make millions of dollars in the big leagues are done playing, so I am at ease with feeling that I got my fill. As for the Spartan Baseball program, which represents the most meaningful part of my career--I've been blessed to coach many, many great people over the years, and together I think we've earned a lot of respect. I draw a lot of satisfaction from that, " states Saikia.
Saikia is very familiar with the administrative side of the Spartan athletic department. In his role as the Associate Athletic Director, he was responsible for a number of different facets of administration from scheduling, transportation, budgeting, and long-range planning for the department.
He has nothing but good things to say about his predecessor, Sean Sullivan.
"Sean did an awesome job in his time here. So many aspects of our department are in excellent standing--it is not as though we have to do a lot of reinventing. But, excellence will always be my goal, and that cannot be achieved by standing still. Our recreational offerings are miles beyond where they were a few years ago, but we need to keep reaching forward. I am proud of our varsity athletic program--we've done some very good things, between the lines and in the classroom, but our expectations need to continue to rise. I sure would like to see more banners hanging in Wolf Gymnasium."
Saikia is driven to push the Spartans to unparalleled heights moving forward.
"Our vision needs to remain with our intent to systematically increase our full-time staff. We've made significant strides, from which we are beginning to see the benefits. That growth is not something that can happen all at once, but I believe steady progress should be part of our plan. Our recent facility upgrades and campus support have definitely helped push toward a culture of excellence, but we have more to do. I am not one for excuses, however, so while we work toward our structural goals, we need to focus on where we are and how we can be our best."
Saikia's move to the position is a natural progression that he is glad to have the opportunity to make. His intimate knowledge of how Division III athletics operate while also having the view of a former coach is something that should benefit him and the College.
"I've been fortunate to be with York College, as part of NCAA Division III athletics for some time. I feel that experience will serve us well. I would attribute much of my growth to the people I have worked with--something I hope others may someday say about me. I take pride in my work ethic and my attention to detail. I don't mind getting my hands dirty, and those who know me would probably attest that I do have something of a competitive streak."