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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 24, 2018 8:30 pm

One-on-one: A discussion of Purdue athletics with AD Mike Bobinski

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

In mid-May, I traveled to West Lafayette to speak with Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski about the state of the Purdue athletic department. 

Bobinski has been the athletic director for nearly two years after taking the job in August 2016. In 2017-18, he presided over a football team that had the largest increase in attendance in the country, a men's basketball team that won 30 games for the first time in program history and a women's basketball team that saw former Homestead standout Karissa McLaughlin lead the Boilermakers to the WNIT as a freshman.

I talked about all of that and more with Bobinski. Below are some of my questions for the athletic director, along with his answers. On Monday, we'll be publishing in the print edition of the Journal Gazette and online more of my discussion with him.

Question: Are you settled in and comfortable in the job? How has the job changed for you in your almost two years with Purdue?

Mike Bobinski: Am I settled in and comfortable? Absolutely. That's an easy thing to do around the Purdue community. It's a very welcoming place; the Purdue family is one I found from Day 1 was eager to embrace new thoughts, new ideas, head in hopefully more successful directions as time goes by. So it's been a really easy transition from that perspective. It's been an unbelievably fast two school years, I can't believe it's been that. Has the job changed? I would say this, when you start at a new place as I did coming from Georgia Tech to Purdue, you spend some period of time, and I think it takes almost a full year, a full cycle to get everything, to understand, to evaluate, to be coherent and intelligent with whatever initiatives you want to embark on. So it's different now, I'm sort of past that evaluation stage and now we're more in the execution and implementation and hopefully moving forward stage. One of the things I'm very thankful for is the flexibility of our staff, the willingness of our coaches, our staff, even our athletes to embrace new challenge, new opportunity, higher expectations, new ways of thinking and doing things.

Q: What is the next facility you hope to have come online that will make an impact on the athletic department?

Bobinski: You're never done with facility things. That's just a fact of life. Buildings age, things move, different opportunities arise. We are fortunate to be in general in a very, very good place. Lots of really good work was done from a facilities perspective in the years prior to me arriving here. Right now we have a project underway that is not very visible, it's taking the old football locker room in the basement of the Brees building (Brees Academic and Performance Center) and turning it into academic support space. We'll have an entire floor to add to the space we already have (for academic support), but really much, much more functional. It'll be able to handle more than 200 student-athletes at a time, with flexible, modern study spaces. That will actually be shovel in the ground or crowbar in the wall in the summer and that should be finished sometime in the winter next year.

(Some other projects Bobinski mentioned were replacing the sound system in Ross-Ade Stadium, which will happen this year, adding a video board in the North end zone of the football stadium for the 2019 season, improving the basketball family area, where recruits visit after games, and adding an indoor track to Lambert Fieldhouse, which is happening this summer.)

Question: How important is your rivalry and the competition with IU? Do you think about how to stay one step ahead of the Hoosiers?

Bobinski: Our in-state rivalry with IU is a great thing. It's one of those great things about college athletics, Indiana and Purdue being in the same state and in some ways sharing a major city in Indianapolis; they're an hour that way, we're an hour this way, so we kind of have that nexus where we kind of meet in the middle. We love the competition and it gets our fans excited. I think athletes on both sides get excited to play against each other. In today's world, so many of the young people know each other, have played with and against each other for years, but it's still a very, very fun thing. We don't obsess over what Indiana's doing, nor do I think they obsess over what we're doing. Obviously, while those games matter, we all have bigger objectives and bigger fish that we're trying to fry. We love our relationship with Indiana, (athletic director) Fred (Glass) is a really great colleague and friend.

For more of my discussion with Bobinski, go to www.journalgazette.net/sports on Monday.