John Schael enters his fourth year as Director of Special Development Initiatives in the Washington University in St. Louis Devolpment Office after spending 36 years as the Director of Athletics.
The 2000 and 2008 Division III Central Region winner of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) award, Schael helped orchestrate the Bears' athletics transformation into one of the top departments in Division III.
Since his arrival in 1978 until his retirement in 2014, WashU totaled 182 NCAA appearances, 169 University Athletic Association (UAA) titles, and 19 national championships. On Jan. 26, 2007, Schael was inducted into the Washington University Sports Hall of Fame, joining nine members of the Class of 2006.
Schael directed the Department of Athletics to eight-consecutive top-five finishes in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup Division III standings, which rates athletics programs from around the country.
The Bears finished a program-best second in the standings in 2007-08 and 2011-12. Washington University compiled a 5,709-2,391 overall record in Schael’s 36 seasons, good for a 70.5 winning percentage.
In 2007-08, he guided the Bears to a school-record three NCAA Division III national championships and a second-place finish in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup, which rates athletics programs from around the country. In 2004-05, the Bears won 11 UAA titles which is a school and UAA record. Washington University also finished a then program-best third in the Directors’ Cup.
Schael has been instrumental in creating the foundation for Washington University’s success. In 1981, he resurrected the men’s basketball program after a 10-year hiatus and witnessed the debut of the Lopata Basketball Classic in 1984. Schael also helped with the addition of several women’s programs at Washington University: cross country (1979), basketball (1979-80), indoor track and field (1987), soccer (1989), softball (2000) and golf (2008).
He helped bring about WU’s assistance in the hosting of the 1986 AAU/USA National Junior Olympic Games, and the 1987 and 1989 National Senior Olympic Games in St. Louis. Washington U. also was a venue for the 1994 U.S. Olympic Festival. Schael was instrumental in the creation of the W Club, WU’s athletics fundraising organization, in 1989, and in 1992, the first induction ceremony was held for Washington University’s Sports Hall of Fame.
Some of Schael’s recent accomplishments include the development of the Gary and Rachel Sumers Recreation Center, scheduled to be complete in 2016. He was also instrumental in the additions of the McWilliams Fitness Center, the Washington University Hall of Champions in 2002, and the installation of UBU turf on Francis Field in the summer of 2012. Additionally, the inception of men’s basketball’s Lopata Classic in 1984 and women’s basketball’s McWilliams Classic in 2001, and volleyball’s Teri Clemens Invitational in 2003 further enhanced the progress of athletics at WU.
The volleyball team won the school’s first national title in 1989 before reeling off six in a row from 1991-96. With the 2003, 2007 and 2009 volleyball championships, the Bears own the Division III record for most titles in volleyball with 10.
The women’s basketball team also won four consecutive national titles from 1998-2001, and picked up its fifth championship in 2010. The men’s basketball team won back-to-back national championships in 2008 and 2009, while the men’s tennis team picked up its first national title in 2008 and the women’s cross country team won its first championship in 2011.
Schael has served on many committees during his tenure on the Danforth Campus, including the NCAA Classification Committee from 1983-86 and the NCAA Council (Division III) from 1987-91. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Sports Commission, the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Committee, and in 1996, he served as president of the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators, an organization he helped establish.
Prior to his time at WU, Schael worked at the University of Chicago from 1968-78. He was the wrestling coach throughout his stay and the associate director of physical education and athletics from 1974-78.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Schael graduated from Euclid High School in 1962. He attended Miami University (Ohio) and earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1966 after lettering four years in wrestling and one in baseball. Schael earned his master’s degree from Miami in administration and physical education in 1968. He was inducted into Miami’s Hall of Fame in 1983 and his high school’s in 1990.
Updated August 1, 2017