"Dr. Paitson combines strong academic credentials with a successful track record both in intercollegiate athletics and professional sports," said LSSU President Dr. 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."
Dr. 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 Dr. 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 Dr. Paitson.
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.
The Dr. David Paitson File
School/Company and Position
|Lake Superior State, Athletics Director
|Sam Houston State, Associate Athletic Director, External Operations
|Columbus Blue Jackets, Vice President of Ticket Sales
|Columbus Blue Jackets, Vice President of Marketing
|Columbus Destroyers, President
|Columbus Chill, President and General Manager
|Central Ohio Ice Rinks (The Chiller Ice Rinks), President
|Indianapolis Ice, Marketing Director
|Indiana Pacers, Assistant Market Director/PR Director
What They're Saying About Dr. David Paitson
Dr. Peter T. Mitchell
Lake Superior State University
"Dr. Paitson combines strong academic credentials with a successful track record both in intercollegiate athletics and professional sports. 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."
Associate Athletics Director
Old Dominion University
"Lake Superior State has made a terrific choice in David Paitson as their new Director of Athletics. David is a veteran of both college and professional sports and brings with him a wealth of experience, talent and prior success. I had the pleasure of working with David at Sam Houston State University and I've always admired the achievements he's created at Sam Houston State. David will undoubtedly be a very successful athletic director."
Learfield Licensing Partners
"Lake Superior State University is gaining a valuable asset to their athletic program and university. I have no doubt that David's passion and desire to push programs forward will be a key driver to an enhanced student-athletic experience and overall department success."
Lone Star Sports & Entertainment
"We enjoyed our eight-year working relationship with David as partners on the premier FCS football event in the country, the Battle of the Piney Woods presented by H-E-B. His creativity and leadership helped to take an event that drew an average 7,000-8,000 fans on campus to one that has averaged 25,000+ fans over the past seven years and had seven straight record crowds since moving to Houston's NRG Stadium, including last year's 27,420 attendees. More importantly, he helped build an event that has significant positive impact beyond the football field on the University community as a whole. The Battle of the Piney Woods presented by H-E-B plays a significant role in enhancing the visibility of the Sam Houston State University brand as well as the experience of both students on campus and the student athletes involved. We appreciate his friendship and partnership over the years and wish nothing but the best for David in his new role with Lake Superior State University."
Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations
Sam Houston State University
""I have thoroughly enjoyed working with David Paitson over the last several years at Sam Houston State University. David is a wonderful colleague, and someone I have come to value as a good friend. His leadership and vision propelled the Sam Houston athletic program to achieve success at the highest levels. David worked tirelessly to increase event attendance, increase revenue streams through sponsorships, engage more alumni and friends of the university, and provide fans with a better athletic event experience. He will be truly missed here at Sam Houston and I wish David and his family the very best."