Examining Mike Bobinski’s three years as Georgia Tech AD

A look at Mike Bobinski’s three-year tenure as Georgia Tech athletic director.

Extending Paul Johnson

In the week between the win over Georgia and the ACC championship game, Bobinski signed Johnson to a four-year extension at an average of $3 million annually. There had been speculation about Johnson’s job security entering the season, as he had two years remaining on his contract after the 2014 season.

Some felt the extension should have come earlier in the season.

Firing of Brian Gregory/hiring of Josh Pastner

Perhaps the most significant impact that Bobinski made at Tech. After deciding to retain Gregory at the end of the 2014-15 season, Bobinski dismissed Gregory a year later following Gregory’s most successful season (21-15) but a career ACC record of 27-61.

The Pastner hire was a surprise in that Pastner was himself under fire at Memphis, and time will tell how it unfolds. Bobinski made a significant investment in the team, first giving Pastner a six-year contract worth an average of $1.87 million, well above Gregory’s $1.1 million contract. Further, he was heavily involved in Pastner’s assistant coach hires – Darryl LaBarrie, Tavaras Hardy and Eric Reveno – and increased the assistant coach salary pool by 35 percent.

Two other head-coaching changes were made, in softball (Shelly Hoerner replaced Sharon Perkins in 2013) and volleyball (Michelle Collier replaced Tonya Johnson in 2014).

January 18, 2013 - Atlanta, Ga: New Georgia Tech Athletic Director Mike Bobinski, center, greets Georgia Tech basketball player Dawnn Maye, left, following the press conference at the Edge Building on the Georgia Tech campus Friday morning in Atlanta, Ga., January 18, 2013. Bobinski was the Athletic Director of Xavier University. Maye is a junior guard for the Georgia Tech Women's basketball team. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski greets basketball player Dawnn Maye at his introductory news conference in January 2013. JASON GETZ / JGETZ@AJC.COM

Strategic plan rollout

Soon after his arrival, Bobinski said he observed that staffers were diligent and well-meaning, but lacked a unifying purpose or a connection beyond the teams or departments where they worked. He prevailed upon about 65 athletic department staff and athletes to develop a strategic plan for the entire department with an overlying mission statement: “Georgia Tech Athletics inspires and empowers student-athletes to be champions in academics, competition, and life.”

The document also included goals for academic excellence, competitive excellence, student-athlete experience, culture and community.

The plan, which has a three-year scope, was rolled out in June. It will be up to the next athletic director to oversee its execution.

Overhaul of senior administration

Six of the nine senior administrators who were on staff when Radakovich left for Clemson later followed Radakovich out the door, some voluntarily and others not.

Mollie Mayfield (associate AD for administrative services), Wayne Hogan (associate AD for communications and public affairs), Theresa Wenzel (associate AD and senior woman administrator), Frank Hardymon (associate AD/chief financial officer), Ryan Bamford (associate AD, promoted to senior associate AD in June 2013) and Jerome Rodgers (associate AD for compliance) all left Tech after Bobinski’s hire.

Heightened compliance

Tech was placed on NCAA probation in June 2011 and had its 2009 ACC football championship vacated for violations stemming from an impermissible benefit given to former Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. The school’s probation was extended in 2014 and cited with a “failure to monitor,” primarily because a former assistant football coach sent dozens of text messages to a recruit in violation of NCAA rules.

Bobinski inherited the investigation from Radakovich and said that “we are resolved that it will never happen again.” Bobinski sought to ensure that by increasing compliance staff’s interaction with coaches and heightening an atmosphere of compliance.

Continued academic success

Radakovich’s increases to academic support staff resulted in improved performance in the classroom, which continued under Bobinski’s watch. Four teams were recognized by the NCAA in April for having academic progress rate scores in the top 10 percent of their sports (football, golf, men’s swimming and diving and volleyball). Tech athletes averaged a 3.0 GPA for four of the past five semesters.

Mixed bag on the field

An AD’s impact on competitive results, beyond hiring and firing, is difficult to tease out. It would be as difficult to blame him for the football team’s three-win season in 2015 as it would be to credit him for the Orange Bowl championship in 2014.

The golf team has continued to excel, the men’s swimming team has improved, the track and field teams have remained among the weakest in the ACC. The tennis teams appear to be experiencing a resurgence. Of the two teams most important to fans, the men’s basketball team is in a state of flux. The football team is facing a season of uncertainty, and coach Paul Johnson made a plea Monday for more resources.

 

 

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