Opponents of Lehigh's football and baseball teams found Samuel Dexter Warriner to be a tough competitor. He carried that tenacity with him in his later careers as he became the principal spokesman for the anthracite industry. After receiving a bachelor's degree from Amherst College, Warriner came to Lehigh and earned his degree in mining engineering in 1890. He was half-back and captain of the football team, on the track and field team where he where he was a pole vaulter, on the baseball team, a member of the Delta Upsilon fraternity, and a member of The Ace eating club. He began his professional career with the Liberty Iron Company in Virginia, and soon moved to the Lehigh Valley Coal Company, where he became assistant superintendent and then mechanical engineer.
In 1897, he became superintendent of the Calumet and Hecia Mining Company. Warriner returned to the Lehigh Valley Coal Company as general superintendent in 1901, and subsequently became general manager and vice president. He was elected president of the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, the most powerful force in the anthracite industry, in 1912. As president, Warriner clashed with John L. Lewis, the pugnacious boss of the United Mine Workers, and with Gifford Pinchot, then Pennsylvania's governor. In 1937, he became chairman of the board of Lehigh Coal and Navigation. He also served as a director of 33 businesses, including many insurance, water, and general railroading companies.
Warriner was active in Lehigh affairs, serving a term as president of the Alumni Association. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1912 and received an honorary degree in 1928. As chairman of the Trustee's Finance Committee for 20 years, he is credited with assembling an excellent portfolio of investments for the university's endowment. Warriner died in 1942, leaving a bequest to Lehigh which was enlarged by a gift from his wife in 1954.