Meet David Paitson

Dr. David Paitson (, @davidpaitson) was the president and general manager of the Columbus Chill from 1991–98. He and the Chill team inspire a city-wide passion and excitement for ice sports championing efforts to bring an NHL expansion franchise to Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Paitson is a career sports business executive who was central in establishing six unique sports businesses and served in leadership capacities in the NBA, NHL, and NCAA.

The Terre Haute, Indiana native began his career in public relations and marketing capacities with the Indiana Pacers (NBA) during the 1980s where he was part of reviving a failing franchise that nearly tripled attendance during his tenure. A St. Thomas University (Miami, FL) graduate with a degree in Sports Administration, Dr. Paitson made a transition into professional ice hockey helping launch the IHL Indianapolis Ice establishing the first financially profitable hockey franchise in the city. The Ice would win the IHL Turner Cup in 1990.

In 1991, Dr. Paitson was named President & General Manager of the ECHL Columbus Chill where he spearheaded an aggressive and edgy grassroots advertising campaign quickly attracting a large and loyal fan base. The Chill would receive acclaim from national media outlets The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, ABC World News Sunday, and The Hockey News. The Chill was twice recognized as the Best Sporting Event in Columbus by Columbus Monthly and was awarded the 1993 AMA’s prestigious Project of the Year for creativity and impact. Dr. Paitson would become an important figure in the process to secure a downtown arena and an NHL expansion franchise – as outlined in Chill Factor How a minor-league hockey franchise changed a city forever, written by Dr. Paitson and co-author Craig Merz the former Chill beat reporter for the Columbus Dispatch. During his time with the Chill, Dr. Paitson also built region’s first and minor league hockey’s first owned and operated dual ice-skating rink the Chiller Dublin (1993) and then Chiller Easton (1997). He established one of the premier Ice-Skating Institute group lesson programs in the U.S. reaching peak participation in excess of 2,000 in a single winter session.

Dr. Paitson would join the NHL expansion Columbus Blue Jackets in 1998 as the franchise’s third employee. He would hold the roles of Vice President of Marketing and Vice President of Ticket Sales during his 10 years with the franchise. He contributed extensively to all aspects of startup operations including development of company’s vision, mission and business/marketing plans. He also spearheaded the process for the development of the Blue Jackets third jersey introduced in 2002. The alternate logo later would replace the original logo as the team’s primary mark. In 2005-06, Dr. Paitson concurrently assumed all franchise operations as president of  the Arena Football League’s Columbus Destroyers during their  second and third seasons. During his time with the Blue Jackets, he also completed a Master’s Degree in Marketing and Communications at Franklin University.

In 2009, Dr. Paitson seamlessly transitioned from professional sports to intercollegiate athletics bringing unconventional and insightful marketing leadership to Sam Houston State University where he and his team drove external revenues to new heights each year. During his eight years in Huntsville, Texas the Bearkats appeared in two FCS national title games (2011, 2012). He completed his Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Sam Houston State in 2016. Less than a year later, Dr. Paitson was named the Director of Athletics at Lake Superior State University, home of the three-time NCAA hockey champion Lakers (1988, 1992, and 1994). He provided immediate stability to a reeling athletic department, implemented important facility upgrades, generated record external revenues, and oversaw improved athletic team competitiveness.

An adjunct faculty in sport management at Southern New Hampshire University, Dr. Paitson continues his academic research in intercollegiate athletics leadership theory, evolving from his dissertation Assessment of Leadership Traits Required for the Intercollege Athletic Director Position, and post dissertation research Critical Leadership in the Management and Marketing of University Athletics (Paitson, Zapalac, & Zhang, 2020), published in the book Sport Business in the United States: Contemporary Perspectives. He has had his research The State and Focus of U.S. Intercollegiate Athletics: Past, Present, and Future (Paitson, Zapalac, & Zhang) presented at the 2017 World Association for Sport Management conference in Kaunas, Lithuania. Dr. Paitson and his wife, Lauren, currently reside in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.