Highland Heights (FOX19) - Northern Kentucky University President Geoffrey Mearns announced today that Ken Bothof has been named the school's Director of Athletics, effective Aug. 19, 2013.
Bothof comes to NKU from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where he has served as athletic director since 2002. Bothof's tenure at Green Bay has been marked by great success both on the field and in the classroom, as well as tremendous growth in support for the school's 16 athletic programs.
"This is an exciting time to be a part of this university and its athletics program, and we're excited to welcome Ken," Mearns said. "What he has accomplished at Green Bay is very impressive. He has positioned the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay for great success both within the Horizon League and on the national stage. Our transition to Division I has gone more smoothly than we anticipated. With Ken on board, I know that our best days are ahead of us."
At Green Bay, Bothof was instrumental in raising $11 million in private funds to complete a $33 million renovation and expansion of the Phoenix Sports Center. He also developed an outdoor facilities plan that includes new soccer and softball facilities, as well as expanded recreational and intramural opportunities.
Under his leadership, the Green Bay women's basketball team has won nine straight Horizon League titles and three NCAA Tournament first-round games; the program's first Sweet Sixteen appearance was in 2011. Men's basketball posted consecutive 20-win seasons and postseason appearances in 2009 and 2010, while men's soccer, volleyball and softball each earned their first trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament. During his tenure, Phoenix student-athletes have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher in each of the last 23 semesters. Green Bay is one of only two Horizon League schools to be ranked in the top 100 in the NCSA Athletic Recruiting Collegiate Power Rankings, which recognizes academic and athletic success and student-athlete graduation rates.
During Bothof's tenure, annual contributions to the Phoenix Fund have more than tripled and membership in the fund has quadrupled. Ticket revenues and corporate sponsorships have increased dramatically, and he also negotiated a five-year contract with Nelligan Sports Marketing for the development of radio rights and corporate sponsorships.
"I want to thank President Mearns and the university community for the confidence they have placed in me to lead NKU during this exciting time in the university's history," Bothof said. "I look forward to working through this transition. There is a great opportunity for success in the future of Division I athletics. The move to Division I is a big move. It's a big step up, and it's going to be challenging and exciting all at the same time."
Bothof has also served as chair of the Horizon League Finance Committee and chaired the Horizon League Executive Committee. He serves as the conference's representative to the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Executive Committee. Bothof is on the YMCA Board of Directors and is a member of the Downtown Green Bay Rotary Club.
Prior to his tenure at Green Bay, he served as associate athletic director for external operations at Saint Louis University, where he oversaw marketing and promotions, fundraising, corporate sponsorships, event management and ticket sales while also supervising three sports. Bothof served as associate athletic director and then senior associate athletic director at Idaho State University from 1990-95, where he developed corporate sponsorship plans and marketing programs, served as compliance coordinator and NCAA certification coordinator, and supervised 12 sports. He began his career at San Jose State University, where he served as assistant athletic director.
Bothof replaces Mike Cusask, who has served as NKU's interim athletic director since April 15, 2013.
The NKU athletics department is set to begin its second year at the NCAA Division I level. A member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, NKU sponsors 15 intercollegiate sports - baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, women's softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's indoor/outdoor track and field and volleyball.
Last year's historic first season in Division I brought numerous highlights. The NKU volleyball team posted a record of 25-7, including a 12-6 mark in the A-Sun. The Norse won championships in each of their four regular-season tournaments and defeated A-Sun regular season champion Florida Gulf Coast on the road. NKU's 25 wins were the most ever by a volleyball program in its first year of reclassification from Division II to Division I. The women's basketball team finished 15-13 and earned a berth in the Women's Basketball Invitational postseason tournament. The Norse also defeated A-Sun Tournament champion Stetson University. The men's basketball team led the Atlantic Sun in home attendance with an average of 3,551 per game. The Norse drew a regular-season record 6,719 for their final home game of the season. Senior Eshaunte Jones averaged 15.7 points per game and earned First Team All-Atlantic Sun Conference honors.
As impressive as any of the on-field success, however, was the fact that NKU student athletes posted a grade point average of 3.05 in the fall and 3.03 in the spring. In fact, the school's student athletes have posted a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater during six of the last seven semesters.
NKU Athletics also launched a $6 million Go Gold fundraising campaign last year, and has raised nearly $3 million toward that goal.
"The support we have seen from our campus and our community has been outstanding," Mearns said. "To lead the conference in home basketball attendance our first year speaks to the level of commitment our students, alumni, faculty, staff and community have for our program. Our fans were patient as we were deliberate in reclassifying to ensure we could be as competitive as possible at the highest level. Our Go Gold campaign was designed to ensure that we remain competitive. Ken will be an integral part of that campaign."
Bothof said he is encouraged by the sense of collective enthusiasm for Division I athletics at NKU. "I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to work at an institution that supports the complete student-athlete experience," Bothof said. "I look forward to working with the entire university community to ensure that our student-athletes experience success in the classroom and in competition."