UW-W AD takes same position at D-II level

Athletic Director Paul Plinske

Athletic Director Paul Plinske


By Kevin Cunningham


Numerous rumors in the past have linked UW-Whitewater athletic director, Dr. Paul Plinske, to make a career jump to the Division I or II level. Earlier this morning it was made official that the former Warhawks athletic director took the same position at the University of Nebraska Kearney, a Division II University.

Plinske will take over for Jon McBride, who reportedly stepped down from the position this spring due to health reasons.

Plinske spent nine years as the athletic director for UW-Whitewater, winning nine national titles, including four D-III football national championships during his tenure. The titles earned during his time aren’t the only thing Plinske will be remembered for—he also oversaw numerous facility upgrades, secured external funding for employment opportunities and made personal connections with coaches, athletes and athletic department staff.

Warhawks head men’s basketball coach Pat Miller said that he thought Plinske was stepping into a great situation at Nebraska Kearney.

“Paul wasn’t going to move just to take any job,” Miller said. “He is going into one of the better Division II conferences in the country. The challenge of building that program and trying to generate the revenue they need to get up to par with the other schools in that conference in terms of scholarships was a professional challenge I think he was ready to take on.”

Over Plinske’s nine-year tenure at UW-Whitewater, Warhawks teams have won 42 conference championships while 32 coaches have been named WIAC Coaches of the Year along with 40 WIAC Players of the Year honors and 33 WIAC Scholar Athletes. He’s been known as someone that coaches and players have been able to connect with.

Junior wide receiver Brady Grayvold, a Northern Michigan University transfer, had nothing but kind words to say about the former athletic director.

“He helped me out a lot by making my transfer a smooth transition,” Grayvold said. “He is very much a people person. I met him the first time during training camp and every time I have gotten to see him, he says ‘Hi, how’s your day going?’ He has been here and has won numerous national championships as an athletic director and yet he’s still very down to earth.”

Grayvold also said that he knows the next athletic director stepping in to take the job will have his or her hands full.

“Once you set the bar high, it will always be high,” Grayvold said. “Whoever comes in as our next athletic director hopefully will have the same expectations—that every team here is expected to win. Everyone wants to win a national championship and that’s what we’re all trying to get.”

For nine consecutive years during Plinske’s tenure, UW-Whitewater athletics has won the WIAC All-Academic Award with higher grade point averages than the general student body population. Plinske’s commitment to Title IX also speaks for itself when looking back at the past nine years.

Since 2004, over $450,000 have been secured in external funding to create opportunities, including a full-time Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator, Assistant Athletic Director/Marketing and External Relations as well as graduate assistant opportunities in several women’s sport programs.

As a fund raiser, Plinske oversaw an $8 million outdoor sport complex renovation. This included a new Fiskum Soccer Field and Foster Track Complex, installation of FieldTurf and lighting at Perkins stadium, new synthetic turf and lighting at Miller Baseball Stadium and a new diamond and supporting areas for the van Steenderen Softball Complex.

Over the past four years, corporate sponsorships and ticket revenue have quadrupled. Warhawks football attendance has played a big part in this recent support, ranking among the top three in average attendance per game for the past nine seasons.

Miller also said that Plinske is a very good problem solver that relates well to people.

“He does whatever he can to help us and give us the best opportunity to be successful,” Miller said. “I think that one-on-one interaction is what his strength is. Obviously when you have as many programs having success as we have had over the past five or six years, you need a strong departmental administration as well as a university administration. Paul and the Chancellor [Telfer] have always worked well together.”

According to a UW-Whitewater announcement, Chancellor Telfer will name an interim athletic director and a national search for Plinske’s replacement will be conducted.

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