AMERICUS - Georgia Southwestern State University men’s head basketball coach Mike Leeder will serve as interim athletic director (AD) and head coach during the 2014-2015 academic year. The national search to replace Jaclyn Donovan who resigned in December was closed and will reopen in a year. Leeder will take over for current interim AD Randolph Barksdale on June 1.
"Coach Leeder has proven himself as a leader, both on and off the basketball court," said GSW President Kendall Blanchard, who made the announcement today. "I am grateful to him for taking on this interim position. I am confident he will be instrumental in moving our athletic program to the next level and look forward to working with him in this new capacity."
Leeder embraces the challenges ahead.
"I'm appreciative for the opportunity provided by Dr. Blanchard and Coach Barksdale to add the responsibilities of athletic director to my current position as head men's basketball coach," Leeder said.
Having served as AD of GSW athletics from 2001 to 2008, Barksdale came out of retirement briefly in January to serve as interim and assess the program.
"Randolph Barksdale has done a great job in his position as interim athletic director," Blanchard said. "He has engineered some significant changes and resolved a few budget issues. I appreciate his willingness to come out of retirement and take on this responsibility despite his many other professional responsibilities and business enterprises."
Barksdale expects Leeder to do well serving in this capacity during the coming year.
"Mike came to mind because, first of all, he's an excellent basketball coach – his record shows that – but he's a really good administrator and organizer," said Barksdale. "I knew he could sit down and put policies in place and figure out exactly where we were as it relates to money, how we get better, what we need to be successful, and just come up with a plan for a year and reflect on where we are and where we are trying to go. But, the main reason was that he could handle both jobs and it would save a lot of money for a year while we figure out where we are as a program."
Already involved in fundraising and partnership efforts for the men's basketball program, Leeder will build upon those relationships in the community as his role as a university ambassador broadens.
"I look forward to strengthening relationships with members of the community, building new partnerships and further interaction with the student body, faculty and staff of Georgia Southwestern," Leeder added.
Another priority will be supporting the Hurricanes and Lady Hurricanes as they compete and represent the University.
"We must continue to enhance the student-athlete experience," he explained.
Leeder recently completed his eighth season at the helm for the Hurricanes. Under his leadership, GSW has placed 10 players on the Peach Belt All-Conference men’s basketball team. He has coached two PBC Freshmen of the Year, nine PBC Players of the Week and GSW’s first All-American in any sport during the department’s NCAA era. Leeder was named the 2010-11 PBC Coach of the Year.
GSW has spent 13 weeks in the NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Coaches Poll, including five weeks this past season when they climbed to No. 18 on two occasions. Leeder has led the Hurricanes to a pair of NCAA National Tournament appearances.
Previously, Leeder served as head men’s basketball coach at Longwood University (1999-2003); associate men’s basketball coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College (1998-99); head men’s basketball coach and athletic director at Thomas University (1994-98); and assistant basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at Tallahassee Community College (1990-94).
Leeder served at Kentucky Wesleyan the season that they won the NCAA Division II national championship. His first team at Longwood posted a 4-22 record before rebounding with a 23-8 mark the following year for the biggest turnaround in NCAA Division II history. His Longwood team won the only conference championship in the school's history, and his first recruiting class included the NCAA Division II national player of the year.
Leeder holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Florida State University, and a Master of Science degree in education from Nova Southeastern University.