Mike Leeder begins his sixth year as the Director of Athletics at Georgia Southwestern State University in 2019-20. Prior to his appointment as the full-time director of athletics, Leeder guided the men's basketball team at GSW for 10 seasons, and led the transition from NAIA affiliation to NCAA Division II.
Leeder has spearheaded changes in the department that have greatly improved the student-athlete experience since transitioning to director of athletics in June of 2014. Under his direction, Leeder has brokered several corporate partnerships, including 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.
The introduction of the Canes 360 booster organization has targeted both private and corporate donations to provide scholarship funding for all 10 of the Hurricanes varsity sports. The Hurricane Club, another booster organization, has seen contributions rise in excess of 200% during Leeder’s tenure, and the re-introduction of the President’s Golf Classic has provided an additional revenue stream targeted specifically to increase the competitive success of GSW Athletics.
Academically, the athletics department continues to shine and reach historic levels for the university, as GSW's 185 student-athletes combined to have an overall GPA of 3.02 in 2018-19 and a school-record 103 athletes landed on the Peach Belt Conference honor roll. In addition, GSW was presented with its second Peach Belt Conference Presidents' Academic Award in school history. The Presidents' Academic Award is the highest award a conference member can receive not related to competitive success. It is awarded to the institution that has the largest separation between student athlete GPA and the overall student population GPA in an academic year.
GSW student-athletes have ranked amongst the nation's best in regards to community service during Leeder's tenure. With a department-wide emphasis on community engagement, GSW finished third nationwide in the Team Works/Community Service NCAA DII Competition during the 2018-19 academic year. Every GSW team completed more than 100 volunteer hours with a 95 percent participation rate from athletes across the department. In all, more than 3,722 hours were served by Hurricane athletes in 2018-19.
Capital improvements are also a priority for Leeder, and the department has developed an aggressive campaign to secure funding for athletic facility upgrades and expansion. Completed projects include new scoreboards at baseball and softball, resurfacing of the tennis courts, the purchase of a Mercedes-Benz van for the golf team's travel, refurbishing of the playing surface for men's and women's basketball and stadium lighting at the soccer field which culminated with the first home night match in school history on Sept. 5, 2018. This fall, a lighting and sound system upgrade will be completed in the Storm Dome to enhance the fan experience at home basketball games. During the 2019-20 school year, construction began on an indoor hitting facility for baseball and softball, as well as a press box and concessions area for baseball, a clubhouse for the baseball team and renovation of the Griffin Bell Golf & Conference Center.
Several programs have experienced unprecedented success during the University's NCAA Division II era under Leeder's watch. The softball team set a program record in 2019 for the most Peach Belt Conference wins in a season and advanced to the conference championship game for the first time in school history. The 2019 baseball team generated the most league wins in a season and fell a tiebreaker short of advancing to the conference championship game. The golf team closed out the 2019 fall season ranked No. 1 in the country according to Golfstat. The 2019 women's cross country team turned in its best finish at the Peach Belt Conference Championship. New hires in men's and women's basketball during the summer of 2019 offer optimism for similar success on the hardwood.
An accomplished coaching and leadership career facilitated Leeder's successful transition to administration. Under his guidance on the hardwood, the Hurricanes spent 13 weeks ranked in the NABC National NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Coaches Poll. Leeder steered the program to a pair of NCAA National Tournament appearances with the first coming in the school's second year of NCAA postseason eligibility. This earned him the 2010-11 Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year award. GSW placed 12 players on the Peach Belt All-Conference men’s basketball team during Leeder's tenure, and he coached two PBC Freshmen of the Year, one PBC Player of the Year, 10 PBC Players of the Week, and GSW’s first All-American in any sport during the department’s NCAA era.
Previously, Leeder served as head men’s basketball coach at Longwood University (1999-2003) where he inherited a struggling program and within two years delivered the only CVAC men's basketball championship in school history. That team advanced to the 2001 NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinals, peaked at No. 9 in the national poll and established 41 school records. Leeder's first recruiting class at Longwood produced the 2001 NABC National Player of the Year, Colin Ducharme.
As associate men’s basketball coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College (1998-99), Leeder helped the Panthers capture the 1999 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Championship. He also served as director of athletics and head men's basketball coach at Thomas University (1994-98), where he started the program from scratch, and assistant men’s basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College (1990-94).
Leeder holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Florida State University and a Master of Science degree in sports management from Nova Southeastern University. He and his wife, Jodie, have two children, Michael a senior pitcher at Emory University, and Alyssa, a sophomore at Georgia Southern University.