The next athletic director at Georgia Southern University will be Tom Kleinlein, who is currently the deputy athletic director at Kent State University in Ohio.
During remarks at a standing-room only press conference to announce Kleinlein's appointment, Georgia Southern President Brooks Keel described the university's new athletic director as someone who not only understands the competitive and business aspects of managing a growing athletics department, but also the focus on academics.
"Tom Kleinlein brings a great deal of experience and enthusiasm to Georgia Southern University," Keel said. "Our goal is to make sure that our student athletes not only win on the field, but in the classroom. We're excited to welcome Tom and his family to the Eagle Nation and I am confident he will lead our athletic teams and department to the next level, both on and off the field."
Kleinlein will succeed Sam Baker, who has been GSU's athletic director for the past 17 years.
"I am very excited to join the Eagle Nation and am honored to serve as Georgia Southern University's athletic director," Kleinlein said. "This job can be summed up in one word: opportunity. The tradition and success that Georgia Southern has become so well known for will serve as the foundation as we build for the future. I am looking forward to working with President Keel, the university's leadership, our coaches, staff and student athletes and I am looking forward to meeting all of our fans, alumni, sponsors and donors."
Kleinlein has been Kent State's deputy athletic director since September 2011. Before that, he was the executive associate athletic director.
He serves as primary adviser and liaison to Kent State Athletic Director Joel Nielsen and oversees strategic planning and operations for the university's Intercollegiate Athletics Department, according to a biography posted on Kent State's website.
During his time at Kent State, Kleinlein has successfully negotiated a five-year multi-media agreement with Clear Channel Media and iHeartRadio as well as an all-sport apparel deal with Nike that includes the first-ever team concept shop in the Kent State University Bookstore, the biography says.
In only his first season with the Golden Flashes, he developed and implemented marketing plans that saw football attendance double in 2010 and basketball ticket revenue rise for the 2011-12 season. He also played a key role in Kent State's national searches for football and men's and women's basketball coaches and is part of the implementation team of a 10-year $42.5 million athletic facility master plan, the university says.
Before arriving at Kent State, Kleinlein served as the associate athletic director for football at Arizona State University from 2005 to 2010. He also previously was the assistant athletic director for football operations at Rutgers University in New Jersey and an academic counselor and the assistant director of football operations at Wake Forest University.
Kleinlein was a four-year letter winner on Wake Forest's offensive line from 1989 to 1992. He received a bachelor's degree in history from Wake Forest in 1998 and a master's in education curriculum and instruction from Arizona State in 2008.
Kleinlein is originally from Inwood, N.Y., and he and his wife, Tara, have two sons, Austin and Mason.
The university hired the Atlanta-based Parker Executive Search firm as a consultant in August, just a few weeks after Sam Baker said in July that he would resign after a new athletic director was found.
A 10-person selection committee made up of Georgia Southern faculty and staff, the Statesboro community, GSU alumni and a current student-athlete also was part of the search process.