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Aaron Bessey

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Veteran intercollegiate athletics administrator Aaron Bessey has been announced as the next Athletic Director for Young Harris College, President Dr. Drew Van Horn announced today.  

Bessey serves as the Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at UNC Asheville and will start in the Enchanted Valley on July 1. 

“Young Harris is excited to welcome Aaron as our new Athletic Director,” said Van Horn. “He comes with the recommendation from many who I respect in Division II athletics. Aaron brings with him the energy, encouragement, and vision that will build nicely on the foundation left by Jennifer Rushton.” 

“I feel incredibly blessed, honored, and humbled to be chosen as the next leader of Young Harris College Athletics,” Bessey said. “I am extremely grateful to President Van Horn, the senior staff, coaches, and administration for believing in me and entrusting me with this opportunity. Young Harris is a truly special place with a supportive community and great tradition. We are going to take Young Harris Athletics to unprecedented heights and always put the student-athletes first while doing so. My family and I can’t wait to get down there and join our new Mountain Lion family!” 

Bessey brings fundraising and marketing expertise to this position from his successful experience in that role at both UNC Asheville and Lenoir-Rhyne University.  

As the Associate Athletic Director for External Relations at UNC Asheville, Bessey helped break an annual fundraising record of $2.2 million, developed the ALL IN campaign, and helped achieve new records in sports giving and corporate sponsorship partners. He was instrumental in the development of the ALL IN Outdoor Sports Complex Capital Campaign to raise funds to renovate and expand the outdoor track, make improvements to the baseball and soccer fields, and add new on-campus tennis courts and fieldhouse.  

Bessey’s hard work as leader of the external team at UNC Asheville led to new milestones in annual fund donors and revenue – more than $800,000, corporate sponsorship partners and revenue – more than $600,000, and sport-giving donors and revenue – more than $350,000.  

Before his time at UNC Asheville, Bessey worked as the Senior Associate Athletic Director at Lenoir-Rhyne University. He was the Senior Administrator overseeing Development, Capital Projects, Corporate Sponsorships, Sports Communications, Digital & Creative Content, Ticketing, and Marketing. Bessey excelled in fundraising at Lenoir-Rhyne.  

He was one of the fundraising leads for successful capital campaigns including an $18 million football and lacrosse stadium as well as other capital improvements adding up to over $4 million. These campaigns helped provide new grandstands at the soccer and track complex, a new weight room, a new gym floor and paint, a new baseball video board, and full-field baseball turf. 

Bessey also set new fiscal year annual fundraising watermarks at LR, raising $700,000 in annual Bears Club revenue, over $300,000 in annual corporate revenue, and a one-day total of $130,000 during the annual homecoming golf and auction. 

Additionally, Bessey’s team helped elevate the gameday experience for those who tune in both in person and from afar at both stops. Both LR and UNC Asheville saw a sharp increase in social media following and live stream viewership.  

Lenoir-Rhyne set a record of more than 6,000 community service hours for student-athletes through Helper-Helper during his stint. His teams have earned NACDA, NACMA, and CoSIDA awards with his external team oversight. 

Prior to Lenoir-Rhyne and UNC Asheville, Bessey served as Director of Marketing at Georgia State University and Assistant Director of Marketing at Appalachian State University, respectively. He is a graduate of NC State University where he served as a men’s basketball student manager. 

Aaron Bessey brings with him his wife, Dr. Caroline Bessey, who will be a primary care physician at Chatuge Family Practice, and their 6-month-old daughter, Sophie.  

What People Are Saying: 

“Aaron Bessey is one of the most energetic and proactive young administrators in college athletics. He has a work ethic that is second to none, engages appropriately with student-athletes, coaches, staff, and donors alike, and is passionate about the future of college athletics. Young Harris College is getting an Athletics Director that will make a positive impact to the Department, University, and Community not only on day one but for years to come!” 

~ Janet R. Cone – UNC Asheville Director of Athletics/Senior Administrator for University Enterprises 

“Aaron Bessey will do a tremendous job at Young Harris and is an outstanding hire for the College. He is an extremely talented administrator and a rising star in the AD ranks. He will immediately connect with the coaches, student-athletes, campus, and community to create alignment with the broader priorities and goals of the College. He will infuse energy and inspire an exciting vision for the future of Young Harris Athletics to position the program for sustained success.” 

~ Kim Pate – Lenoir-Rhyne University Vice President for Athletics 

“Aaron is one of the best up-and-coming leaders in college athletics! Young Harris is fortunate to have Aaron leading their athletics department as he will be a great fit for their institution and community!”  

~ Tim Selgo – Vice President for Mammoth Consulting and former Director of Athletics at Grand Valley State University 

About Young Harris College 

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires, and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and Professional Studies. Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the Conference Carolinas. For more information, visit