Thomas to Lead Athletic Giving Program at USC Upstate

Thomas to Lead Athletic Giving Program at USC Upstate

By Tammy Whaley
University Marketing and Communications, USC Upstate

Spartanburg, S.C. – 
Andrew "Drew" Thomas will begin his role at the University of South Carolina Upstate as associate athletic director for development on Jan. 22 where he will be responsible for a comprehensive annual, planned and major giving program that provides support for more than 200 student-athletes and the athletic facilities.

 "We have really scored major points in hiring Drew to lead the USC Upstate Athletics giving programs," said Meredith Brunen, Ed.D., vice chancellor for university advancement and executive director of the USC Upstate Foundation. "Drew brings a unique perspective to our University Advancement team in that he has experience as both a student and professional athlete combined with the knowledge he gleaned from working at the University of Texas at El Paso."

Julio Freire, athletics director and vice chancellor for intercollegiate sports, added, "Drew is clearly a rising star in our industry and his previous experience in fundraising for an NCAA Division I university will be extremely beneficial to the Upstate Spartans. As a former student athlete, he will be able to champion our efforts by building relationships with those who have an interest in and means to support Spartans Athletics."

A Chicago native, Thomas played on the football team at UTEP, where he was awarded a full athletic scholarship. He became captain of the secondary team and started every game at defensive back for three years straight for the Miners. During that time period, he received four academic awards and two awards from the gridiron. In 2012, Thomas earned a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and was awarded the Bob Stull Athletic Director Award for outstanding character and athletic success, becoming the only athlete in UTEP history to receive the award twice. In 2013 he signed a contract to play defensive back for the St. Louis Rams and played for six months before a series of injuries led to his release. In 2014, he played for the Kiel Hurricanes in Kiel, Germany, and led the team to the European Football League Bowl title.

Thomas returned to UTEP in 2015 to serve as the graduate assistant of football operations/development where he marketed, coordinated and hosted fundraising events/camps for the football team. He was promoted to assistant director of athletic development and served as a member of the athletic development team that raised more than $6 million dollars in 2016. In 2017, Thomas was named a 2017 recipient of the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) Diversity Initiative Program and earned a Master of Science in Intelligence and National Security Studies from UTEP.

"Working for the athletic department at University of Texas El Paso was so ideal for me. In my role, I had the ability to impact and directly oversee the money being raised for the student-athlete scholarship fund, the very thing that changed my life so much," said Thomas. "The University of South Carolina Upstate is a remarkable place and I am eager to bring energy, enthusiasm and to be a part of a great team that has the ability to do some extremely positive things over the next several years."

About USC Upstate
The University of South Carolina Upstate is a regional, comprehensive university that offers more than 40 bachelor's degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences, business administration, nursing, and teacher education, and master's degrees in education, informatics, and nursing. These degrees help students to transition easily to careers in the Upstate region. USC Upstate is committed to fulfilling regional and state workforce needs and thus the university is a major engine of social and economic development.  Comprised of a diverse and dynamic community of approximately 6,000 students from 26 states and 17 countries, USC Upstate is a wonderful blend of traditional and nontraditional students who reflect the Upstate's rich international character. USC Upstate offers a balance of strengths that, when added up, results in a learning experience that is hard to match. The academic programs are accredited and highly ranked, with amazing research and internship opportunities for students. USC Upstate has its main campus in Spartanburg, the George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics and the UPSTATE Gallery on Main in downtown Spartanburg, a location in Greenville, and a growing number of programs online. The USC Upstate Spartans, which fields 17 varsity sports, compete on the NCAA Division I level as a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Nearly 30,000 alumni have earned degrees from USC Upstate and approximately 85 percent choose to remain in the Upstate region to build their lives and careers, making a significant impact of the region's economy and quality of life. Learn more at

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