MTSU magazine’s winter 2024 edition explores perso...

MTSU magazine’s winter 2024 edition explores personal side of new head football coach Derek Mason

The latest edition of MTSU magazine goes beyond the x’s and o’s and the “coach speak” to find out what recently hired head football coach Derek Mason is really like.

Mason grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, keeping his days busy between sports — football, of course, but also track and field — and music, playing the violin and piano many afternoons after school. 

He was raised by his working mother, with help from his grandparents and later his stepfather. His mother would coach his peewee football team to a championship, taking over at midseason when the coach got sick. His grandmother, a school district employee, helped instill the value of education. And his stepfather taught him discipline from his military background, particularly how to clean a car for a Sunday drive to the A&W for a root beer. 

Click the image to access a digital, flip page version.

Mason attended Northern Arizona University, where he competed in football and track and field. It’s also where he met his wife, LeighAnne, who was an NAU cheerleader and, according to Mason, “the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” He’s the father of two daughters, Mackenzie and Sydney. Off the field, Mason loves DJing, working on his (now fully restored) 1964 International Scout, and collecting sneakers, which he often wears into his new office in Murphy Center.

Other stories in the current edition include: 

• Profiles of 2023-24 MTSU Distinguished Alumni: Each year, MTSU recognizes outstanding alumni who bring the university prestige and distinction through their professional careers, loyal support, and service to the wider community. From 1960 to the present day, the MTSU Alumni Association has recognized accomplished alumni with the association’s highest honor: the Distinguished Alumni Award. A younger alumnus who is making a positive impact in the world receives the Young Alumni Achievement Award. The university also awards several True Blue Citations of Distinction.

• Class Notes — updates on the status of other MTSU alumni around the globe. 

Printed copies of MTSU magazine are distributed twice annually to approximately 125,000 alumni readers. Additional copies of the alumni-and-friends’ publication are distributed to interested stakeholders. A web-only, flip version of the entire magazine is available at

— Drew Ruble (