(MSU Release) - Montana State University has received a verbal commitment from Leon Costello, current deputy director of athletics at South Dakota State University, to serve as MSU’s next Athletics Director.
“Everything happens for a reason and today the reason is Leon Costello,” said MSU President Waded Cruzado. “Leon was a very strong candidate in our finalists’ pool and today he has shown his leadership, strength and commitment to Montana State University.”
“Leon has an incredible track-record of success in a land-grant institution. He cares passionately about the student-athletes and is a collaborative leader who will inspire coaches, staff, alumni and fans,” Cruzado said of the decision.
“Leon has been instrumental in bringing the community together to build athletic facilities that have strengthened the university’s mission. He has infused a sense of enthusiasm and hope in the future. We know he will do the same at Montana State University,” Cruzado said.
Costello will start on June 1, 2016. His salary will be $185,000 per year.
In his role as a deputy director at South Dakota State University, Costello oversees the day-to-day operations of the athletic department and directs the implementation of the five-year strategic plan. To date, he has worked on all facets of the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex and Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium; including planning, design, fundraising and premium seating sales. He has been at South Dakota State since 2010 and was promoted to deputy director in July 2014.
Costello also manages the athletic marketing, broadcast services, development, sports information and ticket operations in the athletic department, and serves as the department liaison for Under Armour and Jackrabbit Sports Properties, a division of Learfield Sports.
Additionally, he is the sport supervisor for the Jackrabbits volleyball, men’s basketball and wrestling teams. In his time at SDSU, Costello led the development and implementation of plans that resulted in record revenues, with significant increases in ticket sales, annual giving and sponsorships. On the fundraising front, he assisted in raising more than $57 million since 2012 for capital projects, including both the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex, which opened in fall 2014, and for Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, which opens in fall 2016.
Costello also played a lead role in the restructuring of the Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction, which resulted in an increase of more than 500 percent of total dollars raised and negotiated the department’s 10-year, multimillion dollar agreement with Learfield Sports. Before joining the Jackrabbits, Costello worked in a variety of roles for the Northern Iowa Athletic Department in his eight years on staff. From July 2008 until the end of his tenure at UNI, he served as the associate athletic director for external relations and from 2005-08, Costello served as the assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions.
A native of Fairbank, Iowa, Costello graduated from Loras College with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and sport science in 1998. While at Loras, he also played for the Duhawk men’s basketball team.
Costello completed his master’s degree from Western Illinois University in sport management in 2002 and earned a promotion to director of athletic marketing and promotions in January 2003.
He and his wife, Heather, currently live in Brookings with their daughter, Cailin, and sons, Michael and Griffin.