FAYETTEVILLE – Towson University Director of Athletics Michael Waddell has been named Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Operations and Strategic Communications at the University of Arkansas it was announced by Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long on Monday.
Waddell will join the athletic department’s senior leadership team and oversee the department’s external areas including marketing, licensing, media relations, public relations, ticket operations and RazorVision. He will also be the department’s liaison with the new SEC Network leading the program’s strategic engagement with the new television channel and digital platform.
Since October 2010, Waddell has served as the Director of Athletics at Towson University in suburban Baltimore, Maryland. At Towson, Waddell was the lead administrator for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) program which features more than 500 student-athletes and 150 coaches and staff. During the 2012-13 season, the Tigers claimed six (6) CAA Championships, had four (4) coaches named CAA Coach of the Year, five (5) student-athletes named CAA Player of the Year, nine (9) All-Americans and more than 53 named to All-Conference status, while also having 131 student-athletes achieve a 3.5 GPA or higher and while engaging the Greater Baltimore Community with more than 10,000 hours of service. Waddell also positioned Towson as one of the country’s most progressive programs in the areas of marketing, communications and corporate sponsorships, including soon to be naming rights for Towson’s new 5,200-seat venue which will open next month and a new multi-year footwear and apparel agreement with Baltimore-based Under Armour.
“Michael is a tremendous addition to our administrative team and will provide Razorback Athletics an informed perspective to help our program capitalize on the valuable exposure opportunities we will have moving forward,” Long said. “With our program’s continued success and the launch of the SEC Network, it is important that we strategically coordinate our messaging to effectively tell the story of Razorback Athletics and the extraordinary success of our more than 460 student-athletes. Michael’s proven leadership and diversified experience within intercollegiate athletics will enable us to bring all of our external communication and marketing resources together to accomplish that goal.”
During his tenure at Towson, Waddell developed a program motto of “EXPECT SUCCESS,” that quickly helped re-shape the department and led to many accomplishments of the program on and off the field. The 2012-13 men’s basketball team capped off a dramatic reformation, going from 1-31 in 2011-12 to 18-13 this season, the biggest one-year turnaround in the history of college basketball. Early in his tenure, Waddell negotiated a multi-media rights partnership with CBS Collegiate Sports Properties and expanded the department’s development staff leading to record totals in annual giving over the last two years.
In 2010-11, Towson Athletics embarked on “telling its own story” with a new technology-first approach starting with its web presence and the addition of more video content and daily features on the student-athletes and coaches. The results was an increase of 500 percent of page views to the department’s website and an increase of more than 200 percent of the site’s unique visitors.
“I am excited to join the Arkansas Razorback Family and to work with the outstanding student-athletes, coaches, administration and staff at the University of Arkansas,” Waddell said. “The opportunity to work with a program that has a rich, long-standing tradition and for an athletics director in Jeff Long who has proven to be one of the most innovative and proactive in all of college athletics is something that I am eager to engage. I am looking forward to working with this outstanding team to take advantage of emerging opportunities to share our story of success and position the University of Arkansas at the forefront of college athletics.”
With his leadership, Towson developed one of the nation’s most comprehensive class attendance policies which led to increased academic performance including a program-wide GPA of 3.07. Towson also implemented a new structure to the areas of Sports Medicine and Strength and Conditioning by integrating the two areas for improved cohesiveness placing Towson at the forefront of student-athlete care.
Prior to being named the athletic director at Towson, Waddell spent five years as a Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at the University of Cincinnati. At Cincinnati, Waddell’s primary responsibility was to oversee the revenue generating areas that included marketing/fan development, ticket sales/customer service, sports communications, game day programming, and information technology. He coordinated all of Cincinnati’s football bowl planning, including back-to-back BCS Bowl Appearances in 2009 (FedEx Orange Bowl) and 2010 (Allstate Sugar Bowl).
Acclaimed for his marketing strategies, 10 of the Bearcats’ top 11 all-time largest football crowds were recorded on his watch. Football season tickets sales rose 122 percent, attendance was up 83 percent and overall season tickets revenues grew by 170 percent. Waddell was Cincinnati’s liaison with IMG College – the multimedia and corporate sponsorships rights-holder for UC athletics; adidas – the Bearcats’ official footwear and apparel outfitter; and with ESPN, the exclusive television partner of the Big East. His efforts in renegotiating Cincinnati’s multimedia sponsorships agreement resulted in a net gain of $14 million over the term of the IMG College agreement.
Developing the UC website as a communications and recruiting tool was a focus. The site was redesigned, adding video, audio and a handful of bloggers producing original content on a daily basis. Traffic to the site increased 247 percent in his last three years with the program.
Prior to his Cincinnati assignment, Waddell served as the Associate Athletics Director for External Relations at the University of Akron where sports marketing revenues increased more than five-fold during his tenure through the creation of the “Team Akron” corporate patron program.
In 2006, Waddell received the Sales & Marketing Executives International’s Distinguished Sales & Marketing Award. His “Fear the Roo” campaign at Akron won the NACMA’s 2005-06 “Best of Show” as the nation’s top collegiate sports revenue generating initiative.
During his tenure as Akron’s Interim Director of Athletics the school made its first and only postseason football bowl appearance in the 2005 Motor City Bowl while its No. 1 ranked men’s soccer team also advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight before bowing out to eventual national champion Maryland.
Before joining the Akron staff, Waddell served as the director of marketing and broadcasting at the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was responsible for the development of all athletics corporate partnerships, marketing, promotions and multimedia development. He created the Army Sports Radio Network, securing WABC-770 AM in New York City as the flagship station.
From 1997-2000 Waddell, a North Carolina native, was the Director of Athletics external operations at Appalachian State. His tenure was marked by the signing of a 100,000-watt WKBC-FM as the flagship radio for Mountaineer football and basketball. His 1999 football marketing theme “Rock Solid” spawned Kidd Brewer Stadium’s nickname “The Rock” that has been adopted as part of ASU tradition.
Waddell received his B.S. degree in Sport Management from Guilford College in 1991, where he was also a two-time letterwinner in football. He earned his M.S. degree in Sport Administration from the prestigious Ohio University graduate program.
Waddell began his career in athletics in broadcasting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Virginia, where he was also the Director of Sports Marketing for Charlottesville Broadcasting Corporation. He is an active member of the NACDA and is a founding member of the Cincinnati Sports Professionals Network.
Waddell and his wife, Heidi, have two children; Drew and Caroline.