Named Director of Athletics in May 2005, Bill Maher is in his ninth year back in the Blue and Gold.
The Canisius athletic department had one of, if not the most successful year in school history during the 2012-13 athletic campaign. Canisius became the first Division I school in Western New York to send three teams to the NCAA Tournament in the same athletic year, won four conference titles and had four teams experience postseason play, as the men’s basketball program made its first postseason appearance since 1996.
Since taking over at Canisius, the 17 athletic teams have won 33 conference or regional championships, with a number of teams producing the best seasons in program history. The Canisius campus has undergone a number of renovations at the Demske Sports Complex and inside the Koessler Athletic Center. The Golden Griffins have also achieved academic honors on the regional and national level.
Eleven Golden Griffin teams have played in the NCAA Tournament during Maher’s tenure, including three straight appearances from the Canisius women’s lacrosse team after never reaching the national tournament previously. The hockey and baseball programs each won the first conference titles in program history in 2013, and the men’s basketball program won 20 games for the first time since 2000-01. The men’s lacrosse program has won two MAAC Championships (2012 and 2008) to go along with regular-season championships 2008 and 2006.
The Canisius softball team has won four conference championships and four MAAC regular-season titles while the Golden Griffin synchronized swimming program has extended its streak of ECAC championships to 16 consecutive years. The women’s basketball program won 24 games in 2008-09, playing in the WNIT for the first time in program history.
The men’s swimming and diving team had its best finish in program history at the 2012 MAAC Championship by taking second place and followed that up with its second-straight top-three finish in 2013. The women’s swimming and diving program has posted its highest finish in the conference championship in each of the past two years, finishing in fourth place in 2013. The women’s soccer team won its first MAAC regular-season title in program history in 2010 while the men’s soccer team posted a winning record in 2012 for the first time in 25 years.
The Canisius golf team finished fourth at the 2013 MAAC Championship, the best finish since 1997. The Canisius volleyball team has appeared in the MAAC Championship five teams in the last seven years after six appearances in the previous 17 seasons. The men’s cross country team was fourth at the 2012 conference meet, its best finish since 2002 while the women’s team took second in 2010, its best finish since 1997.
Canisius added its 17th varsity sport prior to the start of the 2011-12 season in women’s rowing. Canisius has claimed the Battle of the Bridge and won the Canal Cup in five of the last six seasons (including three straight), which is an all-sports competition with rival Niagara University.
Fourteen Golden Griffins have been drafted professionally since 2005 – five men’s lacrosse players and nine baseball players – while former Golden Griffin John Axford pitches for the Milwaukee Brewers. Two hockey players have signed NHL contracts, including Cory Conacher who was named the AHL Rookie of the Year and MVP following the 2011-12 season.
During the past eight seasons, 40 student-athletes have won conference player or rookie of the year awards, including six in each of the past three seasons. Prior to Maher’s arrival, Canisius won 24 player or rookie of the year awards in the previous 10 seasons combined.
On the academic level during Maher’s tenure, Canisius has had 23 student-athletes recognized on the district level as Capital One CoSIDA All-Academic selections, including seven Capital One Academic All-Americans during the last four years. Three programs earned a NCAA Public Recognition Award for the four-year period ending in 2011-12. Twelve teams had a grade point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2012-13 academic year, with 74.9 percent of student-athletes recording a GPA of 3.0 or better.
Maher has overseen numerous renovations to the Koessler Athletic Center and the Demske Sports Complex. A new Center for Athletic Training opened in May 2007. New locker rooms were constructed for all female teams and finished in 2008 while the men and women's basketball teams each received new locker rooms in the summer of 2008. The Demske Sports Complex received a $1.7 million facelift with the installation of new A-Turf as well as new scoreboards in 2008. New offices for head coaches and their assistants along with new locker rooms for all of the men's teams were constructed in 2010.
GoGriffs.com, the official web site of Canisius athletics, has undergone two redesigns under Maher. The department has also developed a video webstreaming package for all home events in seven sports (men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and men’s and women’s lacrosse) and is a part of the MAAC.TV package.
Maher is the MAAC's representative to the NCAA Leadership Council, which has one representative from each of the 31 Division I conferences. He chairs the MAAC men’s lacrosse committee and is also a member of the MAAC Technology Committee. Canisius has hosted 10 MAAC Championships since 2005 and will also be hosting the 2014 Swimming and Diving Championships and the 2014 Women’s Lacrosse Championship.
A Canisius graduate and former assistant athletic director at the school, Maher spent seven years at the University at Buffalo and served as the Bulls' interim athletic director from 2003-05.
During his tenure as the interim athletic director at Buffalo, Maher helped UB Athletics oversee $3.6 million in capital improvements to its athletic facilities, restructure the school's Blue & White Club fund drive for athletics, which generated $1 million during the 2003-04 season, and develop marketing campaigns which increased attendance at athletic events.
He also oversaw the development of the men's basketball program, which set a school record for victories and earned the first postseason bid in school history with an invitation to the 2005 National Invitation Tournament. Under his watch, the Bulls' RPI increased from 284 in 2003 to as high as 34 during the 2004-05 season.
Maher was a four-year letterwinner on the Canisius College football team from 1985-88 and earned All-America honorable mention honors as a senior. He received his bachelor's degree in physical education from Canisius in 1989 and his master's degree in sport management from East Stroudsburg University in 1990. Following an internship with the New York Knicks, Maher returned to Canisius in 1991, becoming the assistant athletic director for compliance in 1994.
He became the director of compliance at the University at Buffalo in 1998, where he moved up the ranks and was named senior associate athletic director in 2002. In that role, he managed the day-to-day operations of the Division of Athletics, including the direct supervision of Buffalo's football and men's and women's basketball programs, in addition to the office of compliance and the office of student-athlete services.
Maher resides in East Amherst with his wife, Kristin, and sons, Danny and David.