Leeder changes his mind and decides to stay at GSW
AMERICUS – Back on Monday, May 4 of this year, Dr. Robert E. Bowen, the President of Arkansas Tech University (ATU), made an announcement on the school’s athletic website, arkansastechsports.com, that Georgia Southwestern State University Director of Athletics Mike Leeder was headed to Russellville, Arkansas to take the same position at ATU. However, Leeder has recently had a change of heart and mind and has decided to remain at GSW as the Director of Athletics for the Hurricanes.
According to Leeder, the circumstances that led him to reverse his initial decision and to stay at GSW are pretty simple. Leeder stated that during the past month, he had some conversations with GSW President Dr. Neil Weaver that dealt with the possibility of him staying at GSW.
“After those conversations, my wife and I looked at all the positives that were happening at GSW, not just in athletics, but throughout the entire campus,” said Leeder. “Also, my wife is really happy in her job as a counselor at Schley County Elementary and the opportunity for her to stay in a job she has loved for the last 17 years was important.”
Leeder went on to say that during his time as the college’s athletic director, he and his staff have spent a great deal of effort to bring in an outstanding group of coaches and, as a result, the upward trajectory of each sport at GSW has been undeniable.
“I think we are just scratching the surface of what GSW athletics can and should be on campus, in the classroom and in the community,” said Leeder. “So, after thinking it all through, we made the decision to stay at GSW. I am really happy to be staying and can’t wait to get to work helping make Hurricane athletics the best in the Peach Belt Conference!!”
According to the GSW athletic website, gswcanes.com, Leeder will be entering his seventh year as athletic director at GSW. Prior to his being named as the full-time athletic director in 2014, Leeder served as the head coach of the GSW men’s basketball team for 10 seasons and led the school’s transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II. During his tenure as head coach, Leeder guided the program to two NCAA Division II National Tournament appearances, with the first one coming in the school’s second year of NCAA postseason eligibility. That success earned Leeder the honor of 2010-11 Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year. While Leeder was at the helm of the Hurricanes, 12 GSW players earned PBC all-conference honors and he coached two PBC Freshmen of the Year. Leeder also coached one PBC Player of the Year, 10 PBC Players of the Week and the school’s first ever NCAA All-American in any sport.
Since being named Director of Athletics in 2014, Leeder has been able to broker several corporate partnerships, which included an all-school apparel contract with Adidas, concessions beverage service through Coca-Cola and premium athletic sponsorship agreements with Magnolia Manor, Inc., Phoebe Sumter Medical Center and Citizens Bank of Americus.
Capitol improvements have been and will continue to be a priority for Leeder. Under his leadership, the department of athletics has developed an aggressive campaign to secure funding for athletic facility upgrades and expansion. Under Leeder’s watch, some of the completed projects at GSW include new scoreboards for the baseball and softball complexes, resurfacing of the tennis courts, the purchase of a Mercedes-Benz van for the golf team’s travel and the indoor hitting facility for the baseball and softball teams.