<
>

Cincinnati hires new athletic director

10/22/2011

Cincinnati hired Whit Babcock as its athletic director. Babcock spent the past five seasons as executive associate athletic director at Missouri, and also has been at West Virginia and Auburn in previous stops.

I had a chance to catch up with him Saturday before the Bearcats played. Here is a bit of what he had to say:

What attracted you to Cincinnati?

WB: I feel like Cincinnati has become a destination school. The academic profile is on the rise. I'm just excited to be a part of something that we can build. Mike Thomas laid a great foundation and I feel like it's a program on the rise, and that appealed to me. I believe in Butch Jones. I worked with him at West Virginia, and he was a rising star and so that's exciting. I am looking forward to getting to know all our other coaches as well.

What makes Cincinnati a destination job?

WB: There are a lot of factors. I wanted a place where my family and I can be happy. I have a wife and three boys all elementary school age, and I have heard wonderful things about Cincinnati. From a school standpoint, the academic profile and applications have gone up. It has become one of the places to be there in Ohio, from an athletic and competitive standpoint. You're seeing Cincinnati with two BCS bids in the past 3 years, an NCAA appearance in men's basketball and volleyball success and on and on. It's exciting to get on something that's headed on the right track.

You are entering a tumultuous situation in the Big East. How do you make sure Cincinnati has a place at the table?

WB: It would probably be premature for me to comment on that because there's so much speculation out there. ... But I've talked to President (Greg) Williams and I have complete faith in his leadership. With so much speculation, it's such a fluid situation, so it is premature to comment on that.

This has been a common question, but what does Cincinnati have to offer any league?

WB: I absolutely believe Cincinnati has a tremendous amount to offer. In no particular order: an enrollment of 42,000 students, a Top 35 media market, Top 25 research school. It's a diverse student population, nine Fortune 500 companies are in the area. You've shown you can compete and win NCAA bids and NCAA games. The thing some people don't comment on, they see Nippert Stadium with 35,000 seats, which is a tremendous home-field advantage with tremendous history and tradition. If the crowds are bigger, we can slide over to Paul Brown Stadium, too, from a facilities standpoint. One thing I've learned is not to hang on every media word and every tweet, and it's such a fluid situation. But Cincinnati has a lot to offer and I look forward to working with President Williams.

What are your biggest goals right off the bat?

WB: Obviously, leadership of the enterprise is the first aspect, but in no particular order, generating some financial resources and it's got to be more extensive than raising prices, whether it's fund-raising or turning over all the stones there contract-wise and other things. We need the resources to do three things: we need to hire and retain quality people and coaches, we need to renovate and build facilities for our student-athletes, and we have to be financially funded to provide them scholarship assistance.

The relationship between the athletic director and football coach is so important. How solid is your relationship with Jones?

WB: My relationship with Butch goes back six or seven years from West Virginia. It was pretty apparent early on that he was a really talented coach, not only from an Xs and Os standpoint but from a recruiting standpoint, and from a passion standpoint of how he motivates players. You're starting to see some of the fruits of that labor now. We kept in touch over the last five, six years, and I'm not surprised at the success. I did talk to him late last night. He was excited and I was excited, and I told him, 'Please go beat South Florida, will you? Let's go get this thing started right.'"