Tim Leonard

Tim Leonard will start as SIU Carbondale’s director of intercollegiate athletics on Aug. 1. (Photo provided)

July 22, 2022

SIU names Tim Leonard as its 16th director of intercollegiate athletics

by Tom Weber

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Tim Leonard will become the 16th full-time director of intercollegiate athletics at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. 

A 30-year veteran of athletic administration, Leonard most recently served for eight years (2013-21) as director of athletics at Towson University of the Colonial Athletic Association. He led a department of 19 intercollegiate sports and oversaw a $25 million budget.  

“I am excited to welcome Tim Leonard to the Saluki family,” said SIU Carbondale Chancellor Austin A. Lane. “With a commitment to student success on the playing fields and in the classroom, Mr. Leonard embodies the Saluki spirit and will play an important role as we continue to take athletics to new heights. People who meet Mr. Leonard will be impressed with his extensive experience, his record of accomplishments in sports, and his remarkable expertise and success in fundraising.” 

Tim_Leonard-thumbnail.jpgThe university will introduce Leonard to the public at a Meet & Greet event on Tuesday, July 26, at 5 p.m. in the Charles Helleny Pavilion of the Banterra Center. Leonard officially begins his role as AD at SIU on Aug. 1. (Members of the media are invited to a virtual press conference at 1 p.m. Central today, July 22. For the Zoom link, email Tom Weber, associate athletic director of communications, at tomweber@siu.edu.) 

During his tenure at Towson, Leonard produced a strategic plan for athletics, entitled “Building Greatness,” which resulted in record fundraising success and led to a balanced departmental budget. Under his direction, the Tiger Athletic Fund secured the three largest gifts in department history, and Towson built new facilities for its basketball, football, softball and tennis programs. 

“I’m honored that Chancellor Lane has asked me to join his team at SIU,” Leonard said. “I knew 10 minutes into my interview with Chancellor Lane that I wanted to come to Carbondale. Leadership matters, and he is a leader I want to follow.” 

The Tigers were successful on and off the field under Leonard, setting a school record for most wins in a season in football and men’s basketball, plus NCAA tournament appearances in volleyball, lacrosse, gymnastics, and track and field. Academically, Towson had the highest academic progress rate (APR) within the University System of Maryland and the highest federal graduation rate among all Division I departments within Maryland. 

Leonard follows director of athletics Matt Kupec, who has served as the interim AD at SIU Carbondale since September 2021. Lane thanked Kupec for his service with the athletics department. 

“Mr. Kupec was instrumental in stabilizing the department’s finances, making key hires – including head coaches for soccer, women’s basketball and softball, securing generous private gifts and creating a vision for Saluki athletics,” Lane said. “His quick work definitely helped us attract top candidates like Tim Leonard.”

Lane noted Kupec will continue to support Saluki athletics as a fundraiser in his ongoing role as CEO of the SIU Foundation. 

“My wife, Monica, and I are excited to move to the Southern Illinois region and become engaged members of the community,” Leonard said. “We are both familiar with the storied history of Saluki athletics and are looking forward to building off that history to accomplish even greater success. SIU is truly a special place, and I’m very humbled to follow in the footsteps of so many great Salukis. I can’t wait to get started.” 

Prior to Towson, Leonard was the senior associate AD for external affairs at Southern Methodist from 2008-13, where he was also the interim AD for four months in 2012. At SMU, he managed “The Second Century Campaign: SMU Unbridled” capital campaign on behalf of athletics, which raised $725 million, of which $125 million was designated for athletic initiatives. He restructured the revenue-generating areas of the department to enhance customer service and the donor experience, and increased annual giving by an average of 25% each year, including a record $8.3 million in 2012. 

Leonard’s extensive development background includes a nine-year stint at Central Florida (1999-2008), where he began as executive director of the Golden Knights Club and later became the department’s vice president for development. UCF experienced a tenfold increase in giving during his tenure, and Leonard cultivated a $15 million naming rights agreement for Bright House Football Stadium. 

A 1992 graduate of Boise State, Leonard worked at his alma mater from 1997 to 1999 as an assistant director of the Bronco Athletic Association. Prior to that appointment, he served at Illinois State as director of annual giving (1992-97). 

Leonard is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and served on the FCS ADA Executive Committee from 2016-18. He served on various boards in Maryland, including Special Olympics and the YMCA, and built departmental relationships with Baltimore police and fire departments, Maryland National Guard, regional military bases, USO, Living Classrooms Foundation, The Red Devils and Maryland Food Bank. Towson athletic teams provided 10,000 hours of community service per year for six years, prior to the pandemic. 

A native of Twin Falls, Idaho, Leonard and his wife, Monica, have two children, Hayley and Nathan.