Goshen College names Harold M. Watson as new athletic director

Illinois native to join Maple Leafs from Georgia Southern

GOSHEN, Ind. — Goshen College announced Thursday that Harold M. Watson, a decorated leader, administrator and marketer of intercollegiate athletics with experience in all three NCAA divisions, has been named the new athletic director.

The Evanston, Illinois, native will join the Maple Leafs from Georgia Southern University, where he most recently served as assistant athletic director for strategic marketing. He had previously been the assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions at Armstrong State University, a job he held from 2014 until Armstrong State and Georgia Southern consolidated in July 2017.

“Our search committee focused on finding a leader that had a clear vision for the athletic department, supports the college’s five core values and is committed to providing an excellent experience for our student-athletes. He possesses the skills necessary to sustain and grow Goshen’s success — athletically, academically and administratively,” said Ken Newbold, GC provost and executive vice president. “Harold quickly distinguished himself with his energy, passion and experience to lead the department forward, making it clear that he is the right choice for this role.”

“The guiding principle to my work in college athletics hangs in creating a first-class student-athlete experience that allows our student-athletes to grow as people who are ready to be outstanding members of the global community we share,” Watson said. “Small colleges allow you to build intimate, lasting relationships within both the college community and city — relationships that go on beyond the four years our students are here. It really is a unique experience and I am excited about getting back to that.”

“The biggest reason for my excitement about Goshen is the college’s approach to the student
experience as a whole,” Watson continued. “Goshen is an institution that really cares about preparing its students for life after college. That is me at the core. I want to see our student-athletes succeed in all facets of their life, including academics, athletics and community life, while they are in school, but additionally and more importantly after they leave our campus.”

Watson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he was vice president of the Black Student Union and a two-year letterwinner as a fullback on the Highlander football team. He earned a master’s degree in sports management from Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois.

In the world of professional development, Watson has earned 14 awards from the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators, including a pair of Gold Awards (most recently for Revenue-Generating Idea in 2014-15 at Armstrong State). He is a graduate of the 2011 NCAA Leadership Institute and 2015 NCAA Division II Governance Academy. In 2016, he participated in the NCAA’s Diversity and Inclusion Forum in addition to the Senior Administrators Mentoring Institute sponsored by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

“As a department, we are going to be intentional about what we do to prepare our student-athletes for success on and off the playing field,” Watson said. “We will seek to give them unique, lasting experiences both in and out of athletics that will challenge them to get
out of their comfort zone so that they are better equipped to handle an array of situations in their everyday lives.”

At Armstrong State, an NCAA Division II school, Watson’s areas of oversight included donor and corporate relations. He served as director of the Pirate Athletic Association as ASU posted its most successful fundraising year in school history in 2015-16. He managed the Pirate Open golf outing among other promotional events, served as the athletic department’s liaison to the ASU advancement and communications offices, and was an advisor to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. Closer to the field of competition, he served as tournament director for four NCAA regional tournaments and was the sport administrator responsible for cheerleading, softball, and men’s and women’s cross country.

Watson’s career has also taken him to Knox College, an NCAA Division III school in Galesburg, Illinois, from 2010-13. At Knox, he was again the driving force behind fundraising and donor relations, directing the “K” Club and game-day operations and promotions. He assisted in searches for five Prairie Fire head coaches and posted a revenue increase of more than 50 percent from his first year to his second.

After spending his undergraduate career in Division III at MacMurray, Watson began his administrative career in Division I, working first as an intern at Northwestern University in Illinois and then at the University of Hartford in Connecticut.

At Hartford, he began as manager for athletic external relations before transitioning in 2008 to assistant director of marketing, promotions and events. He managed the budgets and performances of the Hawks’ school spirit groups and oversaw all aspects of the department’s Midnight Mania, Hawk Fest and Fan Fest events. As a member of the Hartford marketing staff, he was part of bringing in more than $1.25 million in sponsorships and $350,000 in ticket revenue during his three-year tenure on top of the winning bid for the America East Conference’s basketball tournaments.

Harold and his wife Christine have a son, Carter Abraham.