Bearcats Athletics Move Forward

It was a reported rumor a couple of days ago that Cincinnati Athletic Director Whit Babcock applied for the same position at Virginia Tech. Then last night, rumor became reality as news confirmed that Babcock officially accepted the position as the new Athletic Director for the Virginia Tech Hokies.

"I am honored to follow in the footsteps of Jim Weaver and am grateful to Dr. Steger, Dr. Sands [incoming Va. Tech president Tim], and the search committee for this appointment," said Babcock in a statement. "I would like to also thank the University of Cincinnati community which has been so wonderful to me and my family. I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to the students, staff, coaches, and administration there."

A press conference was held on January 25th, Saturday afternoon with outgoing AD Whit Babcock, Cincinnati President Santa Ono, and the Interim AD Desiree Reed-Francois. In a statement to the media,

"I would like to thank our group in the Lindner Center, our One Team of coaches, staff and student-athletes. They bought into our vision and all of UC Athletics was boosted higher because of their excellence. There is no way I would have the opportunity at Virginia Tech if it weren't for them. Their performance here got me the job there {Virginia Tech]."

Babcock continued, "Those who are truly the closest to me, know that it would taken an unbelievably special and truly unique opportunity and situation for me to even consider leaving the University of Cincinnati ..... Virginia Tech was that one opportunity, that one, a chance to go work at another top-flight first class university. But more than that, it's a chance to go home."

A Virginia native, Babcock has worked at Cincinnati since October 2011, shepherding an $86 million renovation of the Bearcats' football stadium and hiring football coach Tommy Tuberville from Texas Tech. Cincinnati was Babcock's first athletic director's job. He previously served in various administrative roles at Missouri, West Virginia, Auburn and James Madison.

Babcock was born and raised in Harrisonburg and graduated in 1992 from hometown James Madison University, where he played baseball.

Babcock's defining moment at Cincinnati occurred in December 2012, when football coach Butch Jones left for Tennessee. One day later, Babcock tabbed Tuberville, with whom he worked at Auburn. The Bearcats went 9-4 under Tuberville in 2013, losing to North Carolina in the Belk Bowl.

President Ono next approached the media to talk about the change, "Whit Babcock was much more than a colleague to me, he was a really close friend. I wish Whit the very best in his new position at Virginia Tech .... But with all that said, I'm very optimistic about the future of this university and this great athletic program. It's in great hands and we are very fortunate that we can turn to Desiree Reed-Francois to assert as Interim Athletic Director."

But President Ono did mention to the media that the national and international search for a permanent Athletic Director started the moment Babcock informed him that he was leaving.

Desiree Reed-Francois was named Senior Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator for the University of Cincinnati in March 2013. She will become the first Hispanic female director of athletics in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision.

"It is a privilege to be here at the University of Cincinnati as the Interim Athletic Director. I think all of Bearcat Nation is sad to see Whit Babcock go, but we all appreciate what he has done since his tenure here. And to Dr. Ono, thank you for your utmost confidence in me....I am humbled, grateful and honored to be in this position."

"I will make three full pledges to all of you in this room today," Reed-Francois continued.

"(1) In 2014, we will continue comprehensive excellence in all that we do at this great university. (2) We will remain focused on the student-athletes and their well-being academically, athletically and socially. Academic excellence will be our top priority. (3) It is truly a great time to be a Bearcat."

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