Virginia Tech Pries Babcock Away From Cincinnati To Be New AD With Five-Year Deal
Virginia Tech on Friday named Cincinnati AD Whit Babcock to the same position, as he "has agreed to a five-year deal effective March 1," according to Bill Koch of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Babcock replaces Jim Weaver, who retired last month. Babcock returns to his roots as he "was born in Lynchburg, grew up in Harrisonburg" and graduated from James Madison. He "will be in charge of a program that competes" in the ACC, while UC "has been relegated" to the AAC. U.S. Department of Education data shows that Babcock at VT "will preside over an athletic budget" of approximately $66M compared with just under $50M at UC. His departure "comes at a critical time" for UC, which is not only in the midst of an $86M renovation of Nippert Stadium, but also "faces the problem of what to do with Fifth Third Arena, which is badly in need of renovation, and continues to try to maneuver for inclusion in one of the five power conferences" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/25).
AN OUTSTANDING CHOICE: UC President Santa Ono said, "Whit is in my view one of the best athletic directors in the country. (Tech) made an outstanding choice ... an inspired choice." In Roanoke, Mark Berman noted Babcock "was in charge of athletic fundraising" at West Virginia and Missouri before getting his first AD job at UC. VT Athletic Development Dir Lu Merritt said Babcock is a "guy of high character, and he’s got great fundraising skills. He’s going to bring a lot of good to Virginia Tech athletics and to our fundraising efforts because he does have such a deep knowledge of fundraising" (ROANOKE TIMES, 1/25). In Cincinnati, Tom Groeschen noted UC Senior Associate AD and Senior Woman Administrator Desiree Reed-Francois on Saturday was introduced as interim AD. Babcock appeared at Reed-Francois' introduction and said that it was "hard to pass up the chance to go home, with five generations of family in his native Virginia." Babcock: "Things tend to happen very quickly in situations like these." Ono said that his national search for Babcock's replacement "is under way," and added that his preliminary list "includes 40 to 50 candidates, including some sitting athletic directors." Ono also said that he "will encourage Reed-Francois to be a candidate for the full-time job" (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 1/26).