On March 27, Dr. Paul Plinske, a respected leader in NCAA Division II and III athletics with more than 15 years of experience managing collegiate athletic programs was named the next Director of Athletics at Colorado State University-Pueblo by CSU-Pueblo President Timothy Mottet. Plinske comes to CSU-Pueblo after serving as Director of Athletics at the University of Nebraska-Kearney.
"Plinske emerged as the clear front runner in a competitive national search," said Mottet. "He is nationally recognized as a leader in DII athletics who bridges athletic and academic cultures into a singular university culture of excellence. He has enhanced the athletic profile of each university where he has had the opportunity to lead."
A search committee of nine individuals including faculty, staff, coaches, student athletes, and two community members vetted more than 100 applications from across the country to hire the 13th Athletic Director at CSU-Pueblo. Since 2013, Plinske has been the Director of Athletics at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, a 17-sport NCAA Division II program with 55 coaches and staff and 435 student athletes. From 2004-2013, he led the Department of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, an NCAA Division III program serving 650 student athletes. He also served as Associate Director of Athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse for five years.
In his 15 years managing collegiate athletics, Plinske has a record of enhancing student athletes' academic success through increased GPAs and improved graduation rates as well as attracting, developing, and retaining award-winning coaches. As athletic director, he has experienced nine national championships, nine national runner-up finishes, 13 national coach of the year honors, and 36 conference coach of the year honors. In addition, Plinske has shown the ability to increase corporate sponsorships and partnerships, as well as increase attendance by enhancing spectator engagement and the fan experience. At both Nebraska-Kearney and Wisconsin-Whitewater, he raised more than $20 million in private donations and corporate sponsorship support and managed major athletic facility renovations.
"I am honored to be named director of athletics at CSU-Pueblo," Plinske said. "I will work tirelessly to establish a unified culture that will proudly represent a first-class institution while bolstering student-athlete academic performances, competing for championships, and engaging in meaningful community endeavors."
Plinske thanked search committee chair and Vice President for Finance and Administration Karl Spiecker, the search committee and members of the campus and community for thoroughly engaging in search process. He also expressed his appreciation of President Mottet for his commitment to elevating CSU-Pueblo athletics.
"President Mottet's vision for the University and his commitment to the future success of ThunderWolves Athletics makes this opportunity incredibly appealing," Plinske said. "I look forward to working collaboratively with University faculty and staff, the Pueblo community, and all Pack alumni and fans to establish a high impact student-athlete experience in one of the best Division II athletic departments in the country."
Mottet described Plinske's leadership as disciplined and principled.
"Dr. Plinske develops people to their fullest potential and inspires others by setting high standards, holding others accountable to expectations, supporting and developing them, and celebrating and rewarding their success," Mottet said.
A published researcher, Plinske serves as a board member on the DII Athletic Directors Association (D2 ADA) and is an active member of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), National Football Foundation (NFF), National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA), and Women Leaders in College Sports.
He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education at Bethel University (St. Paul, Minn.), a master's degree in kinesiology/athletics administration from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. in kinesiology/athletics administration from the University of Minnesota.
"Our Department of Athletics is ready for Dr. Plinske's leadership," Mottet said. "We have evolved in many positive ways under Athletic Director Joe Folda, but we are ready for punctuated evolution under Dr. Plinske's leadership."
Plinske and his wife, Elizabeth, a former All-American runner at the University of Michigan, have two daughters: Allison and Lauren.
About Paul Plinske
Birthdate: August 4, 1969
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Family: Wife, Elizabeth, daughters, Allison and Lauren
Bethel University, B.A. in Physical Education (1993)
University of Illinois, M.S. in Athletic Administration (1996)
University of Minnesota, Ph.D. in Sport Administration (1999)
Colorado State University-Pueblo, Director of Athletics (2018-Pres)
University of Nebraska Kearney, Director of Athletics (2013-2018)
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Director of Athletics (2004-2013)
University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Associate Athletics Director (1999-2004)
University of Minnesota, Facility and Event Management Intern (1998-1999)
St. Paul Arlington (Minn.) High School, Assistant Track & Field Coach (1997-1999)
University of Minnesota, Instructor (1996-1999)
University of Illinois, Graduate Assistant in Football (1994-1996)
Bethel University, Assistant Football and Men’s Basketball Coach (1992-1994)