Brescia hires Gayler as AD, men's basketball coach

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Sep. 18—Brescia University made some history with its new athletic director and men's basketball coach announcement on Friday.

Sarah Gayler was introduced Friday morning at the Moore Center Gym as Brescia's men's coach and AD. Gayler is the first female to be named a men's basketball coach in NAIA history.

"There are two aspects of that, I am so blessed, so excited," Gayler said. "But I've been coaching 13 years, and I've been part of a men's program for the last 12. So, it's just another Friday. I'm very grateful, but it's normal."

What hasn't been normal is the pace that Gayler has put in since Monday. It could easily be described as a whirlwind.

"I just got here Monday, found a house on Tuesday and started on Wednesday," Gayler said. "Today is day three and I have a press conference. I met my team (Thursday), yes, maybe a whirlwind, but everyone has been so helpful in every aspect. I couldn't ask for anything better."

Gayler had experience working in basketball in Owensboro before. She was the assistant head coach of the ABA/PBL Kentucky Mavericks during their run here that ended in March 2017.

The team won two ABA national championships and went 103-0.

Before that Gayler worked in various basketball training and coaching capacities.

Over the last few years Gayler has worked with the Jr. NBA in Indiana and China as an international director and coach.

The last two seasons she worked with the Milwaukee Bucks in basketball operations with an emphasis on scouting. The Bucks were NBA champions in July, and Gayler said she would get a championship ring because she worked for the organization.

"I'm a little excited about that," said Gayler, who is 35.

She is also excited about the dual roles at Brescia. Brian Skortz resigned as AD and men's basketball coach earlier this summer.

"I was helping with scouting and basketball ops with the Milwaukee Bucks, it was fun, it was great, an amazing experience, but I'm a basketball coach, I really missed it," Gayler said. "This opportunity, I saw it, it fell in my lap and I said I'm going to go for it.

"At that point I wasn't in the mindset of leaving, but I'm a coach at heart, I saw the opportunity."

Brescia is still getting its roster finalized, but the team was in attendance at the introduction event. They would be starting practice to get ready for a November 1 exhibition opener at Murray State.

"If you were to look at my desk right now, you'd see 800 post-it notes, but I just take one off every chance I get," Gayler said. "One step at a time."

Building more camaraderie within the athletic department and between Brescia athletics and the Owensboro area are also important goals for Gayler.

Rev. Larry Hostetter, Brescia's president, was impressed with Gayler's experience, and that she is the first female men's basketball coach in the NAIA is a plus for the school.

"She was one of the applicants and from our perspective she was the most qualified," Hostetter said. "We're always looking for opportunities to enhance the diversity among our staff and faculty, it's a very good thing for us from that perspective.

"She has a ton of experience, she presents herself very well, she helped us understand what she would bring to the program."

Brescia was 10-19 in men's basketball in the 2019-20 season. Brescia was 3-12 in 2020-21, the COVID-19 shortened season. In 2018-19 Brescia was 15-14.