CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The University of Cincinnati lost more than a president with the departure of Santa Ono in the eyes of football head coach Tommy Tuberville.
Tuberville and Ono shared a unique relationship through their time together at UC. Not only were the two both hired in 2012, but Ono played a role in the hiring of UC's 41st head football coach. In Tuberville's first three seasons as head coach he led the Bearcats to a 25-13 record, a 2014 American Athletic Conference (AAC) Football Championship and three bowl appearances.
What stood out the most to Tuberville though wasn't just Ono's admiration for UC's athletics, but the overall passion he had for the university and the city of Cincinnati. Tuberville said it was even one of the reasons why he came to the Queen City.
"You heard of a player's coach," Tuberville said. " was a student's president because he was in the field all the time."
Ono is deemed as one of the more gregarious presidents to roam the halls of UC, especially with his presence on social media and sporting events. Tuberville said that Ono was a salesman and that he was regarded as different.
Different because he was upfront with everything and worked in the best interest of the university.
"He believed in the students," Tuberville said. "The students are the university and that's what I liked about him."
UC is in the works of both redoing Fifth Third Arena and possibly making the jump from the AAC to the Big 12 Conference, which includes Tuberville's former team, Texas Tech.
That was, however, within Ono's tenure, who is scheduled to depart mid-July, and raised the question if a voice would be lost in pursuit of said changes. Tuberville said that the groundwork has already been laid in addition to a number of people already being involved.
"He was our leader," Tuberville said. "You don't have to ask him to do anything, he'd make phone calls. He understood what academics could do for the university and what academics could do for athletics. We just want to be as strong as we can and he has helped us become stronger every year that he was here."
To say Ono left UC better than when he took the position as president would be considered an understatement according to Tuberville. The school reached more than 44,261 students, breaking enrollment history for UC in three straight years with another expected this August.
And the best is yet to come as Ono stated in a letter to the university.
"Academics is our selling point," Tuberville said. "Our athletes come here to get a great degree, not just a degree."
But it's time for the 28th President of the University of Cincinnati to return to his hometown in Vancouver, Canada, to begin his next chapter as the 15th President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Colombia.
"He'll do great there," Tuberville said. "He's going home."