Bobinski leaving Xavier better than he found it
Mike Bobinski's last day on the job as athletic director at Xavier is Friday. Wednesday he helped usher the Musketeers into the new Big East.
He didn't act much like a man on his way to a new position at a new school in a new conference. Xavier was still "we" and the Atlantic 10 was still "our conference" as Bobinski spoke about his days on Victory Parkway. He came to Xavier in 1998 to take over the athletic department and, with the exception of a two-year period when he was spearheading university fundraising efforts, he has guided the school to unprecedented success. Nine different programs have earned NCAA berths during Bobinski's tenure.
Bobinski is leaving Xavier to take the AD's job at Georgia Tech. The way he spoke on Wednesday the obvious question was: why?
"It's not a Xavier issue," said Bobinski. "This is a personal and sort of professional issue for me. I really felt that this is going to be a great opportunity for Xavier, as they make this transition, to have new leadership, new vision, somebody new sort of steering the ship into the brave new world.
"Georgia Tech is an amazing place. It's a school just like Xavier; it has tremendous priorities, tremendous academic strength and wants to compete at the highest level. It's a familiar and comfortable transition and environment for me. Without that it wouldn't have worked. This is purely a personal and professional decision."
Bobinski is completing his term as chairman of the NCAA Men's Division I basketball committee with this year's tournament.
Xavier will be joining fellow newcomers Butler and Creighton in a Big East conference that has settled on regaining its basketball roots. Holdovers Providence, Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Marquette, DePaul and Seton Hall don't play Division I-A (FBS) football. Georgetown, Providence, St. John's and Seton Hall were founding members of the Big East in 1979.
The Musketeers became members of the A-10 in 1995-96, jumping from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference. They won outright or shared A-10 regular season basketball titles and four conference tournament championships in their 18 seasons.
"People have tried to label us and say that we shouldn't, we can't and we're not capable of competing at a national level because we're not in those power conferences," said Bobinski. "Well, we've exceeded that and we've done it many times… I don't for one second expect us to take a back seat to anybody in this league. We're expecting to go in there eye ball to eye ball with each of these teams."
Bobinski brushed aside any talk of Xavier to the Big East being his legacy. He gave Xavier president Fr. Michael J. Graham much of the credit.
"I would tell you that I'm very thankful to be here today for this announcement because it really is the culmination of so many years of thought, preparation and hard work," said Bobinski. "I'm not a legacy guy. That's never been my thing. I would say this: it could never be any one individual doing this. It has taken the collective Xavier community to get us to this point, to be that institution that people look at from an academic standpoint, from an athletic standpoint, from a fan support standpoint. All of those things that are in place are way beyond any one individual."