SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – David Paitson (pronounced Pate-sun), a dynamic and creative leader with over 25 years of comprehensive management and executive marketing success with intercollegiate, minor and major league sports franchises, including the Columbus Blue Jackets, Indiana Pacers and Sam Houston State University has been named Director of Athletics at Lake Superior State University (LSSU).
“Dr. Paitson combines strong academic credentials with a successful track record both in intercollegiate athletics and professional sports,” said LSSU President Peter T. Mitchell. “His marketing expertise and management acumen are exactly what Lake State needs to revitalize athletics on campus and expand our fan base throughout the Eastern Upper Peninsula. David’s commitment to athletics enhancing the undergraduate experience for all students and being a source of pride will build on the role and reputation of Laker sports teams through the years. Dr. Paitson’s leadership style of principle-centered passion aligns with LSSU’s commitment to an intercollegiate athletics program marked by integrity, sportsmanship and academic excellence.”
Paitson will be directing the LSSU athletics program, which presently sponsors 12 intercollegiate varsity sports (six women’s and six men’s). The men’s ice hockey program, which has been crowned NCAA Division I National Champions three times (1987-88, 1991-92, and 1993-94), is a member of the widely-acclaimed Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The other eleven Laker athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division II level and hold membership in the highly-competitive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).
“I would like to thank Dr. Mitchell and the university family for extending me the opportunity to lead and serve the Lake Superior State University athletics program,” said Paitson, who starts his duties at LSSU immediately. “I intend to operate Lakers athletics with three objectives in mind – to educate and graduate the student-athlete, to represent our university and community with integrity and excellence, and to build a winning tradition on the field of play, in the classroom, and in the community.”
“I would also like to express my gratitude to Jennifer Constantino for her work in serving as the interim athletics director at Lake Superior State,” added Paitson.
Most recently as Associate Director of Athletics External Operations, Paitson contributed to the resurgence of Sam Houston State University athletics. Bearkats athletics experienced a 325% increase in the revenue generating areas including ticket sales, corporate partnerships, licensing, and fundraising under Paitson’s direction. The Terre Haute, Ind., native also served as Sam Houston’s lead in a three- way marketing partnership with Lone Star Sports & Entertainment (managed by Houston Texans) and Stephen F. Austin to annually host the rivalry game at NRG Stadium in Houston starting in 2010. The rivalry game has established record attendance numbers each season drawing nearly 27,500 fans in 2016.
Prior to his time in intercollegiate athletics, Paitson spent 20 years in professional hockey. Paitson was an integral part of Columbus, Ohio’s efforts to build a downtown arena and attract an NHL expansion franchise. He would also serve as part of the city’s downtown arena commission to publicly finance a downtown arena and attract an NHL team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Paitson was the third person hired by the CBJ where he worked for 10 years – first as Vice President of Marketing and Communication and later as Vice President of Ticket Sales. For two seasons he concurrently served as President of the Arena Football League Columbus Destroyers.
Earlier, Paitson was an integral part of launching two minor-league hockey franchises. As Marketing Director of the Indianapolis Ice, the International Hockey League franchise was the first professional hockey franchise in Indianapolis to turn a profit and won the Turner Cup in 1990. As President and General Manager of the East Coast Hockey League Columbus Chill, the franchise established a sellout streak for minor league hockey – 83 consecutive and sold out more than 80% of its home games in the team’s eight year history while winning two division titles. Under Paitson’s direction, the Chill was instrumental in building the infrastructure of hockey and iceskating participation and introduced new fans to hockey in Columbus, when it became the first minor-league hockey team to build, own, and operate its own dual ice rink facility – the Chiller Dublin and later a second dual sheet facility – Chiller Easton across town four years later. The Chillers developed the largest Ice Skating Institute class participants in the United States.
Paitson began his career with the NBA’s Indiana Pacers serving in public relations and marketing capacities for six seasons contributing to the Pacers nearly tripling their attendance numbers during that span. Paitson earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Sam Houston State University in 2016. His dissertation titled Assessment of Leadership Traits Required for the Intercollegiate Athletic Director Position. He completed his graduate degree in marketing and communications at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio and his undergraduate degree in sport management from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida.
In 2015, Paitson and co-author Craig Merz released Chill Factor, How a minor-league hockey team changed a city forever. The book details Columbus Chill’s edgy marketing, and creative promotional strategy that lead to unprecedented box office success and broke the stranglehold of Ohio State football and changed the city landscape forever. The Chill drew national media coverage from the Wall Street Journal, ABC World News Sunday, The Hockey News, and Sports Illustrated. The Chill was twice named the city’s Best Sporting Event by Columbus Monthly. Chill Factor became an Amazon #1 selling book in two categories (Hockey, Sports Industry).
Dr. Paitson and his wife Lauren will be relocating to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.