Thursday, April 29, 2004

XU's Bobinski leaves AD job

Accepts post as associate VP of development

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Xavier University athletic director Mike Bobinski let everyone else in on a secret he and a few others have kept for several months.

Bobinski said Wednesday he will take over as Xavier's associate vice president of development June 15. He resigned as athletic director effective May 31.

"I've never, ever in my career looked at athletics as a final destination," Bobinski, 46, said. "It's been a great and really rewarding run. ... But at some point in my career, I'd like to take on some new challenges. I'm thankful for the opportunity to do that here at Xavier."

Xavier president Rev. Michael Graham said he hopes to hire an athletic director by the time Bobinski begins his new job. Graham did not name any candidates, although two internal administrators could be possibilities.

Senior associate athletic director Dawn Rogers has worked under Bobinski for 10 years, first at Akron and then at Xavier since Bobinski replaced Jeff Fogelson in 1998. She declined to say whether she is interested in the job.

"I'm looking forward to the direction of the department and talking with Father Graham," Rogers said.

Xavier also could look at Greg Amodio, the associate athletic director for marketing who has been at the school for nine years.

Administrative vice president John Kucia will head the search committee of five to six people, including Graham. Kucia was out of his office and unavailable Wednesday. Bobinski will not be part of the search committee, but Kucia and Graham have asked for his input throughout the process.

"This is my first time doing this, so I'm being tutored by John Kucia," said Graham, who has been Xavier's president since 2001. "We'd like it to go fairly quickly."

Bobinski came to Xavier from Akron on Aug. 15, 1998. Former Xavier men's basketball coach Skip Prosser, now at Wake Forest, suggested Bobinski to Xavier administrators after being impressed by Bobinski when he was an associate athletic director at the U.S. Naval Academy in the early 1990s and Prosser was considered for the Midshipmen's coaching job.

"Recommending him to Xavier is something I'm really proud of," Prosser said. "He's a coach's AD, always lets you know where you stand."

From the beginning, Bobinski established a positive rapport with the athletic department staff.

"He's never been the typical athletic director," Rogers said. "He's very honest. He's a great communicator. The first fall that I was here, he would be at the volleyball matches and the kids would be like, 'I can't believe that we know who the athletic director is.' "

Bobinski oversaw the 2000 opening of Cintas Center, Xavier's $46 million multipurpose arena. He hired men's and women's basketball coaches and extended the contract of men's coach Thad Matta through 2013. The women's team reached the Elite Eight in 2001, and the men's team did the same this season for the first time.

In October, Bobinski approached Kucia and mentioned that he was thinking about venturing outside of athletics after the sports season ended. A few days later, Graham called Bobinski into his office and they discussed the new position. The director of development at the time, Jim Jackson, had health problems that kept him from meeting the demands of the job, and in replacing him, Graham created a position of higher stature - associate vice president. He offered it to Bobinski.

A month later, Bobinski accepted the position but wanted to finish the season as athletic director before making an announcement. He told Matta a few weeks ago.

"Thad and I have a very close relationship," Bobinski said. "He got nervous when I told him. ... I think the university and I have a great sense of what's important in this position. We don't need a drastic change of course."

Now that he has had time to think about it, Matta does not foresee any difficulties about adjusting to Bobinski's replacement.

"We've got a great thing going at Xavier, and I don't think it's going to be a problem," Matta said.

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