After spending the better part of 22 years putting together the types of events that Towson University staged for him, Mike Waddell felt a bit out of place in the spotlight Wednesday.
Waddell was introduced as Towson's director of athletics amid much fanfare and a packed crowd inside the Minnegan room at Johnny Unitas Stadium, marking the end of a three-month search by the university to replace Mike Hermann, who resigned on June 15.
As he addressed an audience composed of members of the university's administration, athletic department, coaches and student athletes, Waddell described his 120-day plan of action titled "Now and Forever: Victory, Strong and Bold," and how he will elevate the Tigers to the crest of the Colonial Athletic Association.
"We're going to think outside of the box. That's one of the things I do," Waddell said. "We're going to improvise, overcome and adapt when problems arise and, in the end, will succeed because there is no other option. That's what we're about. We're about winning, we're about giving diplomas, we're about being a part of the community and we will come out on top in the CAA"
Waddell, 41, previously served as the senior associate director of athletics at the University of Cincinnati, where he oversaw revenue-generating areas such as marketing and ticket sales, and helped coordinate back-to-back Bowl Championship Series appearances for the Bearcats' football team in 2009 and 2010. Cincinnati's football season tickets sales rose 122 percent under his watch, attendance was up 83 percent and overall season ticket revenues grew by 170 percent. Waddell also helped jumpstart ticket sales for the Bearcats' women's basketball program and Cincinnati's marketing department was honored with three National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators awards.
Towson president Robert L. Caret complimented Waddell as an energetic people person who is committed to the student athlete. Caret said he was looking for a leader who could move the program upward while balancing athletics with academic success.
"We have a very definitive vision for ourselves," Caret said. "We know where we're going as an institution and athletics is at the core of that vision moving forward. We just have to break out of the box in athletics if we're going to be the kind of university we all dream of becoming."
Waddell will take official control of the program on Oct. 26. Caret's chief of staff, Ted Zaleski Jr., will continue to serve as interim athletic director -- a role he has filled since Hermann's departure. Zaleski said the university conducted interviews with 10 potential candidates at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, but only Waddell and Naval Academy deputy director of athletics Eric Ruden were invited to campus for follow-up interviews.
Before Cincinnati, Waddell served as the associate athletics director for external relations at the University of Akron, filling in as the school's interim athletic director when Akron made its first and only postseason football bowl appearance in the 2005 Motor City Bowl. A 1991 graduate of Guilford College where he was a member of the football scout team, Waddell has also fulfilled myriad roles in the athletic departments at the United State Military Academy at West Point, the University of North Carolina and the University of Virginia.
Waddell said he and Caret are still negotiating contract terms, but insisted he has long-term plans for Towson to grow in the CAA and, ultimately, at a national level.
"I want to build something and I want to work with great people," he said. "It's a great sports town. We have a lot of people who are quality folks in this area. There's no reason we can't be a power force in this area."