By James Bartolo
Dr. Paul Plinske made his first address as athletic director of Colorado State University-Pueblo Monday at the Greater Pueblo Sports Association Room at Massari Arena.
Before coming to Pueblo, he served a total of 15 years as athletic director of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and the University of Nebraska-Kearney. He said he had been preparing for the position since former athletic director Joe Folda announced his retirement in November.
According to Plinske, the first thing that drew him to CSU-Pueblo was the vision of President Timothy Mottet. While Plinske was athletic director at Nebraska Kearney, Mottet was provost at Mid-American Interecollegiate Athletics Association rival, Northwestern Missouri State.
“I knew wholeheartedly what his sports programs had done while he was provost there and knew that he had a bigger and broader vision for CSU-Pueblo,” Plinske said. According to Plinske, CSU-Pueblo’s diversity, facilities, staff and potential also played a role in his decision to come to the university.
Plinske said the athletic department “has done some great things, but is ready for even better things.” He said the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is growing increasingly competitive, but CSU-Pueblo can potentially contend for RMAC titles and compete at the national level consistently.
In his fifteen years of experience, Plinske said that he has experienced a lot of success and a lot of failures. “Through that I’ve learned that a good man is neither puffed up by fleeting success, nor broken by adversity,” Plinske said. “I’m excited to jump in full force to this opportunity here and create the best athletic department possible by doing things right.”
Plinske said his experience gave him a well-rounded perspective. “I’ve worked at institutions that have won national championships and I’ve worked at schools that have cut sports,” Plinske said. “I can tell you that I have a good perspective on what it takes to build a championship program, but I also have a greater perspective on what it takes to avoid cutting sports.”
Plinske said he is ready to engage with university staff. “I’m looking forward to the strategic planning that we’re going to do in the coming months, but most importantly, I’m looking forward to building lifelong and valued relationships with coaches and staff,” Plinske said.
Plinske outlined five goals for the department. He said he wants to create a unified purpose to follow, see opportunity, seek out room for improvement, promote calculated risk-taking and look for boundary spanning opportunities. “For us, it’s going to be a plan of unified conversations about what we can do better, what we can improve and if there are things we need to fix we’re going to fix them,” Plinske said.
According to Plinske he is also interested in engaging with the community. “This town is incredibly supportive of CSU-Pueblo athletics and I’m excited to get into those relationships and meet those people,” Plinske said. He said he wants to hear the community’s suggestions for improvement.
He said he also wants to continue to engage with schools, nonprofits and kids’ camps. “There’s really something special that can be said about student athletes and the interaction they can have with children,” Plinske said.