Leon Costello brought his comprehensive background in athletic marketing and administration from the University of Northern Iowa to the South Dakota State athletic staff in March 2010 as the senior associate athletic director for external affairs.
In July of 2014, Costello took over as the deputy director of athletics, where he oversees the day-to-day operations of the athletic department and directs the implementation of the five-year athletic department strategic plan. To date, he worked on all facets of the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex and Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium; including planning, design, fundraising and premium seating sales.
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. He also works as 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 over $57 million since 2012 for capital projects, including both the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex, which opened in the fall of 2014, and for Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, which opens in the fall of 2016.
Costello also played a lead role in the restructuring of the Jackrabbit Athletic Scholarship Auction, which resulted in an increase of over 500 percent of total dollars raised and negotiated the department’s ten year, multi-million dollar agreement with Learfield Sports.
In the community, Costello serves on the board of directors for both the Brookings Convention and Visitors Bureau and the boys and Girls Club of Brookings.
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. In that position, he oversaw the marketing efforts for the Panther athletic program, directed the Panther Scholarship Club and supervised the men's and women's golf programs.
From 2005-08 Costello served as the assistant athletic director for marketing and promotions, where he assisted with the fundraising efforts of the McLeod Center capital project and coordinated all aspects for the athletic sales and marketing plan, including managing the Northern Iowa Sports Radio Network.
Under his direction, sponsorship revenue at UNI increased by more than 200 percent and ticket revenue increased by more than 150 percent. In addition to increasing external exposure by securing two separate cable television agreements and adding radio affiliates, Costello also assisted in negotiating a 10-year agreement with Learfield Sports to provide additional marketing resources, and he developed programs like the Varsity Club, to re-engage former Panther student-athletes.
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 served an internship in marketing and game operations with the Boston Celtics. In the fall of 2002, Northern Iowa hired him as its athletic marketing and promotions assistant, where he worked for a year before earning a promotion to director of athletic marketing and promotions in January 2003.
Leon and his wife Heather live in Brookings with their daughter Cailin and sons Michael and Griffin.