Richard Hyatt: New CSU athletic director is a different kind of coach

A coach for fundraising

June 27, 2014 

When Tim Mescon introduced Columbus State University's new athletic director Friday, he didn't mention Todd Reeser's wins and losses or how he played the game.

The announcement was made at the Lumpkin Center in a room overlooking the basketball arena, but this was a day reserved for blue blazers, not warm-up suits and Air Jordans.

The message was clear: This isn't Sonny Clements' CSU anymore.

In the beginning, when the school was a junior college holding classes in a hosiery mill, Clements was the athletic department. He coached basketball and baseball while making sure the team bus was filled with gas and that players' socks were washed and dried.

He was not unique. Most athletic programs were led by old coaches who measured success by where their teams were in the conference standings.

Clements begat Herbert Greene, who begat Jay Sparks. Now comes Reeser, a former college baseball player who has never coached a team, diagramed a play or argued with an umpire.

"I coach staffs," Reeser said.

Mescon, the president of CSU, sought an administrator and not a coach when he began shopping for a successor to Sparks in April. A search firm presented 80 names, and those candidates reflected this dramatic cultural change.

From that list came Reeser, who has raised money at four universities over the past 25 years. He has been at Georgia State University since 2009 as the executive senior associate athletics director for development and sports services -- a title far removed from anybody's playing field.

"He secured the four largest gifts in Georgia State University history and three of them were in excess of a million dollars," Mescon said.

Say no more. Give him the job.

Since Mescon arrived, there has been talk of CSU going Division I so it could play with the grownups. He ended such talk Friday.

"We're not going Division I," Mescon said. "The Board of Regents has taken a stance that you are where you are."

That takes a burden off Reeser's budget, for moving to Division I isn't cheap.

And then there's football.

Reeser was at Georgia State when it added football, and he didn't sound all that interested in starting a team at CSU. He threw that ball back to the president.

"Football is a topic for the university leadership and for the Board of Regents. I want to make the programs we have better and you gotta start where you start," he said.

CSU must keep growing, for enrollment is the root of all good things and an exciting athletic program can be a key component in attracting students. "You want a winning program," Mescon said. "I'd be disingenuous if I didn't say winning and losing is a factor."

Now it's up to an Illinois farm boy who isn't a coach to deliver those victories.

-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at hyatt31906@knology.net.

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