RUSSELLVILLE – Dr. Robin E. Bowen, Arkansas Tech University president, has announced that Mike Leeder will become ATU director of athletics on July 1, 2020.
Leeder has served as director of athletics at NCAA Division II member Georgia Southwestern State University since June 2014.
“Intercollegiate athletics is an integral factor in building and maintaining a cohesive culture within a university,” Bowen said. “Arkansas Tech University is committed as an institution, and I am personally committed, to continue the winning tradition of Wonder Boys and Golden Suns athletics. Our student-athletes and coaches are among the most visible representatives for the ATU ethos of competitiveness, grit and passion to succeed.
“Mike Leeder has the experience and drive necessary to continue leading the ATU Department of Athletics in that direction. He shares my vision that Arkansas Tech University should win Great American Conference championships and earn opportunities to advance in NCAA Division II postseason competition, and that we should achieve all of this while excelling in the classroom and in volunteer service. Our success in each of those areas will make our students, alumni, faculty, staff and community supporters proud to wear the green and gold.”
Leeder will take leadership of a department that offers 11 sports at the NCAA Division II level: baseball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s cross country, football, men’s golf, women’s golf, softball, women’s tennis, women’s track and field and volleyball.
Arkansas Tech captured the GAC All-Sports Trophy as the top overall athletics program in the Great American Conference in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018.
ATU won the NCAA Division II Team Works community service competition by leading all eligible institutions of higher education — more than 300 across the United States and Canada — in volunteer service hours by student-athletes in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
“I would like to thank Dr. Bowen and the search committee for having confidence in me and my ability to provide leadership for Wonder Boys and Golden Suns athletics,” Leeder said. “It is a responsibility I am excited to accept. There is a high level of excellence associated with Arkansas Tech athletics that is known on a regional and national level.
“It is a winning tradition that, in many ways, was founded exactly 100 years ago when John Tucker and his football teammates earned the Wonder Boys nickname. That initial success has been amplified by the thousands of Wonder Boys and Golden Suns who followed them and won dozens of championships in multiple sports over the past century. I look forward to sharing the story of our past, present and future achievements with our stakeholders as we work together, each doing our part, to obtain the resources and implement the strategies necessary to succeed.”
In six years as director of athletics at Georgia Southwestern, Leeder forged corporate and private partnerships that yielded increased scholarship funding for student-athletes. Donations to the Georgia Southwestern athletics booster club increased by more than 200 percent during his tenure as director of athletics.
These additional resources manifested themselves in student-athlete success. Four Hurricanes programs — baseball, softball, men’s golf and women’s cross country — achieved unprecedented success during the 2019 calendar year, including a No. 1 national ranking in men’s golf.
Georgia Southwestern student-athletes completed the 2018-19 academic year with a grade point average of 3.02 and won the Peach Belt Conference Presidents’ Academic Award. A school-record 103 Georgia Southwestern student-athletes earned a place on the Peach Belt Conference honor roll in 2018-19.
As is the case at his new institution, volunteer service by Georgia Southwestern student-athletes was a point of emphasis under Leeder’s guidance. Georgia Southwestern finished third in the NCAA Division II Team Works community service competition in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
During a span of 10 days in April 2020, Leeder and his fellow members of the Georgia Southwestern Department of Athletics collaborated with local industry partner TSG Resolute for materials and produced more than 112,500 face shields to help address the national shortage in personal protective equipment for health care providers combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Leeder earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Florida State University and a Master of Science degree in sports management from Nova Southeastern University.
His career as a men’s basketball coach included stints as assistant men’s basketball coach at Tallahassee Community College, director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach at
Thomas University, associate head men’s basketball coach at Kentucky Wesleyan College and head coach at Longwood University.
He helped Kentucky Wesleyan win the 1999 NCAA Division II national championship and guided Longwood to its only Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference Tournament championship. It all led to Leeder’s appointment as head men’s basketball coach at Georgia Southwestern in 2006. He coached the Hurricanes to two NCAA Division II Tournament appearances and 13 weeks in the National Association of Basketball Coaches NCAA Division II top 25 during his decade on the Georgia Southwestern bench.
In 2016, after two years serving concurrently as director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach at Georgia Southwestern, Leeder stepped down from his coaching responsibilities to focus on his director of athletics role.