Oct. 20, 2016
Andy Demetra | Inside the Chart
Todd Stansbury had many hands to shake, many high-ranking officials to meet and many places to visit on the day of his introduction as Georgia Tech’s ninth athletic director on September 22.
The former Yellow Jacket linebacker was clearly a man in demand. Yet when it came time for him, his wife, Karen, and his parents to catch grab lunch at the Barrelhouse on Tech Square, Stansbury only sought one person for company.
At first glance, Davis Schneider seemed like an odd choice. He isn’t a student-athlete. He doesn’t control any important purse strings. But perhaps no one on The Flats was more excited to see Stansbury again than Schneider, a senior in Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering.
Schneider, 22, lived four houses down from the Stansburys while growing up in Corvallis, Ore., where Todd served as Oregon State’s executive associate athletic director from 2003-2012 and most recently as its AD. It was Stansbury’s endorsement of his alma mater that convinced Schneider to move 2,600 miles from home and pursue his degree on The Flats.
“I must have been a good influence on him,” Stansbury joked during his first pregame radio interview.
He may have said it in jest, but Schneider was quick to corroborate.
“Whenever anyone asked me why I came from Oregon all the way down to Georgia, I told them I had a family friend who played football here in the 80’s and he said, `Come check out the school.’ I came down here and just fell in love with it,” said Schneider, who is scheduled to graduate in December and pursue a career in supply chain management.
It was supply and demand that actually began their relationship more than a decade ago. Schneider got to know Stansbury while cutting his lawn as a kid.
“My dad wanted to me to get out and start working,” Schneider said. “I think it was a little rough because I was around 10 or 11 when I started.”
Schneider mowed the Stansburys’ lawn for four years, until his sophomore year at Corvallis High School. The job took about an hour to complete and though he can’t recall the specific dollar amount, he insisted Stansbury paid well.
“It was great when I was younger,” Schneider said, laughing.
Over time their families grew close – the Schneiders’ backyard fire pit became a popular evening meeting spot — so when Davis decided to follow his parents and study industrial engineering in college, word soon got back to Stansbury. He didn’t hesitate to recommend his alma mater.
“The way he spoke about it and everything, you saw the pride for the school. That’s what I noticed after talking to other people, too. There was a lot of pride in Georgia Tech. Everyone loves to be a Yellow Jacket,” Davis recalled.
Stansbury knew what he was talking about: Georgia Tech has the No. 1-ranked industrial engineering program in the country according to US News & World Report’s higher education rankings.
Schneider enrolled at Georgia Tech in the fall of 2012. When he accepted an internship at Disney World for the spring semester of his sophomore year, he once again called Stansbury, who by then had taken the athletic director’s job at UCF.
“I called him up and said, `Hey, can I come stay at your house when I’m moving down there?'” Schneider said.
Even then his affections were clear: Schneider remembered seeing Stansbury’s Georgia Tech football jersey on display in his home office.
Stansbury moved back to Corvallis in 2015 to assume the athletic director’s post at Oregon State. When the Georgia Tech job came open, Schneider mentioned his connection to Stansbury to a member of his senior design team.
On the morning of September 22, that friend shot him a text.
You’re going to be happy to hear who the new athletic director is, the text read.
Welcome back to the neighborhood. Do the Stansburys have a landscaper in Atlanta?