For Mike Bobinski, it’s always been about the money. Not the grubby, greedy kind, but the kind that makes it possible for people to be their best and institutions to do good work. So the man best known for his skills as the University’s athletic director announced he is leaving athletics to take over in June as the University’s new associate vice president for development. He will oversee all Xavier fund raising.
While the sporting events were a highly visible side of his job as athletic director, what wasn’t so visible were the tasks of quietly establishing loyalties and raising money to help fund student scholarships and build up the athletic program. There, he excelled.
And there is where Bobinski’s career actually began—in finance as an accountant with Arthur Young and Deloitte, Haskins and Sells, as well as Disney. He is, after all, a certified public accountant. He left all that 20 years ago to concentrate on managing the business side of college-level athletics, first at the University of Notre Dame, then the U.S. Naval Academy. His next move was to the University of Akron, where he was the athletic director before taking on the same job at Xavier in 1998.
“I recognize clearly that athletics can be a great vehicle for development, and having been in this environment, I can only strengthen that for the University,” he says. “It all starts with the relationships.”
Under his leadership, the University’s athletic teams won nine Atlantic 10 championships and participated in 19 NCAA tournaments, including trips by the men’s and women’s basketball teams to the Elite Eight. He hired Thad Matta as the men’s basketball coach in 2001 and women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff. He oversaw the opening of the Cintas Center. Those experiences were actually grooming him for yet a larger and perhaps more noble task. As head of development, Bobinski now is responsible for all fund-raising efforts, including planned giving, annual giving, major gifts, capital campaigns and grant services. He reports to Gary Massa, vice president for university relations.
“I really want people to feel they’re doing something meaningful with their lives,” says Massa, “and that’s one of the reasons I think Mike is so excited about his new life. It’s about making a difference.”