When Columbus State University president Tim Mescon announced Todd Reeser as the school’s new athletic director at a news conference on Friday at the Lumpkin Center, the resume he revealed read a little differently than those in the past.
Instead of coaching experience, there were years of growth and plenty of dollar signs.
Reeser, who has never coached, comes from a background in four athletic departments, most recently five years at Georgia State University as the senior associate athletic director for development and sports services. There, he secured the four largest gifts in the program’s history, Mescon said, including three in excess of $1 million.
Before that, he spent four years as the associate athletic director for development at Central Florida in Orlando, where he doubled the number of athletic donors to well over 4,000.
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He has also worked at Illinois State University, his alma mater, and Drake University.
“When I was 24 years old, I became responsible for all the fundraising at Drake University,” Reeser said after the conference. “Since then — and it’s been a few years — I have been the primary development officer for athletics at all four stops I’ve been at. I will tell you, I’ve been tasked with raising money at other universities, and I wouldn’t still be doing it if I wasn’t fairly effective at it.”
Reeser officially takes over the position on Aug. 1. He is replacing Jay Sparks, who left in April to return to the sidelines as the women’s basketball coach at Francis Marion.
While Mescon dispelled the notion that Reeser would be charged with helping Columbus State transition into Division I or adding a football team, stating unequivocally that neither move was going to happen, the president did lay out a handful of projects that required more donations to complete.
After outlining an exploration that determined the program was better suited to remain in Division II, Mescon said the goal would be to refine and improve their current facilities as the school is already doing with an improved baseball stadium and a new golf studio.
“As part of our new campaign, we hope to raise funds for a new tennis complex at Cooper Creek in partnership with the city of Columbus, and a new track and field complex right in the middle of this campus,” Mescon said. “We think if we do that, this will be among the finest Division II facilities and programs in the United States, and that’s what we want.”
That will likely be at the center of Reeser’s responsibilities, along with drumming up enthusiasm for the school’s current sports. “There are the fans, our alumni and all of our supporters,” Mescon said. “One of the things (Reeser) talked about that he’s deeply committed to is how do we build enthusiasm among 8,200 Columbus State University students to get them to come to rifle matches, tennis matches, to basketball games? How do we get them excited about that?”
He will be involved in finalizing a budget for the next academic year once fall enrollment numbers are known, Mescon said. The budget varies year to year based on enrollment because athletics are funded by student fees.
Reeser is also different than his predecessors in that he is not familiar with the area, but neither he nor Mescon expressed any concern over his ability to integrate quickly within the community.
“The assessment is accurate,” Reeser said about his unfamiliarity with the region. “But I’ve been at four places previously of which I was an ‘outsider.’ I once had one of our wonderful donors in Illinois tell me, ‘You know, there are great people everywhere. You just need to find them.’ That seems very simple. But the reality is that everybody is from somewhere. In Atlanta, nobody was from Atlanta — they’re from all over. In Orlando, nobody is from Orlando.
“The beauty here is that there are people who understand how Columbus operates. Occasionally, it’s probably not bad to have a bit of an external outlook. Ultimately, it comes down to relationships, and that’s something I enjoy.”
Mescon said that Reeser would be paid a base salary of $135,000, plus a deferred compensation component dependent on Reeser staying with the school. Sparks was paid a salary of $108,000, Mescon said.
Overall, Reeser has spent 26 years working in various athletic departments. He played baseball at Illinois State and earned a bachelor’s degree in general finance there in 1985. He earned a master’s degree in sports administration from St. Thomas University in 1986.
He is the fourth athletic director in Columbus State history, following Sonny Clements (1959-86), Herbert Greene (1986-2008) and Sparks (2008-14).