In this episode, Dr. Paul Plinske talks about his experiences a perennial Division III powers University of Wisconsin Whitewater and Wisconsin La Crosse and some of the similarities and differences between NCAA divisions. He also has great thoughts on leadership and career advancement.
Appointed by Chancellor Doug Kristensen as the ninth Director of Athletics in Loper history on Aug. 14, 2013, Plinske has overseen a number of changes to UNK’s 17-sport athletic department while also leading the Lopers through its early years the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA).
As of July 1, 2015, Plinske was chosen as the MIAA’s representative to serve on the Division II Athletic Directors Association Board of Directors. He also serves on the Kearney Family YMCA Board of Directors.
Prior to his arrival at UNK, Plinske spent the previous nine years as Director of Athletics at NCAA Division III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. During his time at UW-Whitewater, the Warhawks won nine national championships and finished as national runner-up on seven occasions. In 2007, Plinske hired Lance Leipold as the Warhawks head football coach, who led UW-Whitewater to six national titles before heading to Division I Buffalo. Seven of the nine years that Plinske worked at UW-Whitewater, the Warhawks reached the national championship football game, including five with Leipold.
Before heading to UW-Whitewater, Plinske was Associate Athletics Director at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse from 1999-2004, while he also served as the school’s Graduate Sport Administration Program Director. At UW-La Crosse, he saw the Eagles win 13 Division III national championships. Plinske also served on the local American Cancer Society’s Board of Directors at UW-La Crosse.
Plinske began his career in athletics as an assistant football and men’s basketball coach at his alma mater, Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was also a football graduate assistant at the University of Illinois and worked with facilities and event management at the University of Minnesota while completing his doctorate.
A Minneapolis native, Plinske received his bachelor’s degree in physical education from Bethel University in 1993. He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in sport administration from the University of Illinois and Minnesota in 1996 and 1999, respectively.