Operating with a fast break mentality from the day he was hired, Todd Stewart’s tenure as WKU’s Director of Athletics has been marked by consistent success for the Hilltoppers on the field of play, in the classroom, and in the community. In his four years at the helm, 431 student-athletes have obtained their degrees, WKU has captured 25 total conference championships, and the athletic department staff, coaches and players have devoted over 7,000 hours of community service. Stewart also played an instrumental role in elevating WKU’s athletic programs to Conference USA on July 1, 2014.
The depth of WKU’s success makes the Hilltoppers one of the nation’s most successful all-around athletics programs, as the 25 conference championships during his tenure have been won by 12 different sport programs. The 2015 football program had perhaps the best season in school history. WKU tied the school record for single-season wins (12), became the first school in Conference USA’s 20-year history to go undefeated in regular season league play and also win the league’s championship game, defeated South Florida in the Miami Beach Bowl for the program’s second consecutive bowl victory, and finished the season ranked No. 24 nationally by the Associated Press. WKU Volleyball also finished its season nationally ranked, finishing No. 22 in the final AVCA poll after going 32-4, winning the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles, and sweeping Arizona in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The men’s indoor track team also captured the 2016 Conference USA indoor and outdoor titles, its second consecutive indoor league title.
A member of WKU’s senior athletic staff since 2008 and 28-year veteran of collegiate and professional sports, Stewart was named WKU’s Director of Athletics on May 9, 2012, after serving in the role on an interim basis since March 22.
Stewart has a wide range of experience on many different levels, including nearly two years as WKU’s Senior Associate Athletic Director, over two years as WKU’s Associate Athletic Director for Communications and Media Relations, more than three years as Associate Commissioner for Communications at the Sun Belt Conference and 15 years of communications and media relations experience with two different franchises in the National Football League.
After nearly two years as WKU’s Senior Associate Athletic Director, Stewart was named Interim Director of Athletics on March 22 after the departure of Ross Bjork to Ole Miss. He was immediately responsible for the day-to-day operation of WKU’s athletic department and its 19 varsity sports and over 400 student-athletes and employees. In that role, Stewart completed the hiring of Michelle Clark-Heard as head women’s basketball coach and oversaw the assistant coach hiring for both Heard and head men’s basketball coach Ray Harper.
Stewart was elevated to Senior Associate Athletic Director in August of 2010 after serving as WKU’s Associate Athletic Director for Communications and Media Relations since June of 2008. As Senior Associate Athletic Director, Stewart served as second-in-command in the department and assisted in strategic initiatives that advanced the mission of athletics, served as a critical advisor for all important decisions for the department and helped formulate and implement the department’s communication strategy, vision and philosophy. He also assisted in the day-to-day management of football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball and oversaw all aspects of scheduling for football, basketball and other sports as needed. He worked in a strategic fashion with all external relations including ticket sales, development, IMG and marketing to create specific plans for revenue growth and new forms of communication and outreach. Stewart continued to oversee all components of communications and was responsible for helping publicize and brand WKU Athletics on the national, regional and local level. He managed the department responsible for generating media exposure for the university’s 19 sports through television, radio, press releases, press conferences, publications, event coverage and the athletic department’s website, WKUSports.com.
Stewart joined WKU in June of 2008 after a 40-month stint as Associate Commissioner for Communications for the Sun Belt Conference, where he and his staff were responsible for internal and external communications for all Sun Belt Conference publicity. Stewart created and helped institute media relations standards for every league school, served as the conference’s primary contact for men’s basketball and was the conference liaison with ESPN/ERT and the school’s athletic directors in developing the SBC’s annual football and basketball television schedule. He also served on the BCS Media Relations Committee for college football’s 2008 National Championship Game.
Prior to joining the SBC, Stewart worked in the National Football League for 15 years. He was hired by the Cleveland Browns as Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations in 1999, helping to create the franchise’s communications/media relations department as it reentered the league as an expansion team. Stewart developed the Browns’ strategy for releasing organizational messages via press conferences, press releases, interviews, the team’s official web site and publications. The club’s website, ClevelandBrowns.com, earned the number-two ranking out of 131 professional team web sites in 2004 in an annual survey conducted by Street and Smith’s Sports Business Journal. Stewart assisted the NFL’s public relations staff at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans and was the AFC public relations representative at the 2000 Pro Bowl in Hawaii while with the Browns. He also served on the NFL’s Media Policies Committee. Prior to joining the Browns, Stewart was the Assistant Director of Public Relations for the Indianapolis Colts from 1991-99, where he helped direct activities between the organization, community and media with major responsibilities focused on writing press releases and producing team publications as well as arranging and coordinating interviews and press conferences. While with Indianapolis, he worked on the NFL’s public relations staff at Super Bowl XXVII in Los Angeles and at three consecutive AFC Championship Games (1997-99). The Colts’ public relations staff was presented the 1996 Pete Rozelle Award, an annual honor bestowed to the NFL’s top PR staff as voted by the Pro Football Writers of America.
Stewart, 50, received his bachelor’s degree in communications from Miami (Ohio) in 1988, where he twice received the Miami University Parents’ Council Student Achievement Award for outstanding service to the university. He worked as a graduate assistant in the sports information department at the University of Tennessee from 1988-90 while also pursuing a master’s degree in communications. Stewart currently serves on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Southern Kentucky and is also a member of the Bowling Green Rotary.
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Stewart and his wife, Rebecca, have one son, Blake (16).