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New AD at WIU

Paul Bubb speaking at his introductory news conference. "It’s about saying we are Leathernecks and we find a way to get it done."
Rich Egger
Paul Bubb speaking at his introductory news conference. "It’s about saying we are Leathernecks and we find a way to get it done."

Western Illinois University’s new athletic director said he is passionate about Leatherneck athletics and that he will work to instill that passion in fans.

“We definitely need fan support out here. We need people at the games. We need people joining the Leatherneck club,” said Paul Bubb.

The university chose Bubb to replace Danielle Surprenant, who took a job off-campus. Surprenant continued as athletic director in an interim, part-time capacity while WIU searched for her replacement.

Bubb said the past couple years have been difficult for athletic programs across the nation because of the pandemic.

“We need to get back to where we were prior to COVID and also back to the days I remember,” he said, citing a time when he said fans filled the stands. “We’ve got to be involved in getting people back here. We just have to make connections with them.”

Bubb is well-acquainted with WIU and the region. He grew up in Ipava and attended the VIT School District. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Monmouth College and a master's degree in sport management from WIU. And he has been Western’s executive director of development since February 2018.

WIU said Bubb has more than 30 years of senior-level experience in intercollegiate athletics administration and advancement. Details can be found here.

“My master’s degree in sport management from here at Western has served me well. I want to repay that if I can and I think I’m in a position now to do that,” he said.

He said one of his first orders of business is to bring stability to the department and make sure it’s fully staffed.

“People here in the athletic department have worked extremely hard over the last several years because they’ve been wearing two or three hats. We need to get people’s positions defined and let them know what their responsibilities are and let them do their job. But we also need some additional staff to do other jobs as well,” Bubb said.

WIU announced the hiring during a news conference on Wednesday morning at the Hall of Fame room in Western Hall on the Macomb campus.

Bubb spoke about his passion for WIU athletics while addressing the students, alumni, and employees who filled the room.

“It’s about the coaches and student-athletes who have worn the purple and gold and who are here now. It’s about saying we are Leathernecks and we find a way to get it done,” he said.

Bubb saluted Rock Hanson, Marion Blackinton, Helen Smiley, and others for their efforts in building the program through the decades.

He said he will work to establish -- and in some cases reestablish -- key relationships to ensure success.

“That includes getting into the communities we serve from the Quad Cities to Peoria to Springfield to Quincy. This is western Illinois and we need to have a strong presence in all those areas,” Bubb said.

In addition, he said he will devote time to a facilities master plan to complement the university’s master plan and address what he called “the needs of a competitive NCAA Division I athletic program.”

WIU President Guiyou Huang told the crowd he is looking forward to what Bubb can accomplish.

“He will be a strong leader for all of our teams and all our coaching staff,” said Huang.

“WIU is seeing a lot of good things happening. Today is one of them.”

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.