Following a national search, Michael Oblinger has been named Athletics Director at UNCW, the university announced today. Currently Deputy Director of Athletics-External Relations at the University of Connecticut, Oblinger will join the Seahawks on April 1, 2023.
He will be introduced to the UNCW community at a press conference at 2 p.m., Monday, Feb. 20, in the Golden Hawk Room of the Nixon Annex next to Trask Coliseum. As Athletics Director, Oblinger will report to Chancellor Aswani K. Volety. When he becomes the university’s seventh full-time athletics director, he will take over the helm of UNCW Athletics from Jimmy Bass, who is retiring on April 1 after nearly 13 years in the role.
At UNCW, Oblinger will lead an NCAA Division I program with a rich history of athletics competition, 19 intercollegiate teams and more than 350 student-athletes, who posted a collective, cumulative 3.388 GPA for the fall 2022 semester. The Seahawks compete in the CAA, and during the 2021-22 season, the women’s softball, men’s tennis, and men’s swimming and diving teams won CAA championships. The men’s basketball team tied for first place in the CAA standings and captured UNCW’s first postseason championship in men’s hoops, winning the College Basketball Invitational in Daytona Beach.
“Michael Oblinger is a proven leader who is dedicated to supporting student-athletes in their journeys to pursue excellence in the classroom and in competition,” Chancellor Volety said. “He understands the meaningful role that great athletics programs play in the life of a university. He looks forward to amplifying the winning environment already in place at UNCW, helping our Seahawks soar even higher in the years to come.”
The chancellor noted that Oblinger has “big shoes to fill” as he follows in the footsteps of Jimmy Bass, who has served as AD since the fall 2010. Under his leadership, UNCW teams have won 30 CAA championships and often competed in NCAA postseason play. Dr. Volety also thanked the Athletics Director Search Committee, chaired by Vice Chancellor for Advancement Eddie Stuart, for their service and support during the search to find UNCW’s next AD.
Oblinger brings nearly 20 years of experience to UNCW. At UConn, a Big East Conference school, Oblinger leads 40 colleagues in advancing the university’s overall mission, where he serves as the Athletics Department’s Chief Revenue Officer and sits on the Athletic Directors Executive team. During his six years with UConn Athletics, the department has surpassed several goals for fundraising, ticket revenue and social media engagement. During the past three years, philanthropic giving to the department has totaled $71.4 million. He also is the sport administrator for UConn’s nationally recognized men’s basketball and baseball programs.
"UNCW is getting an experienced, well-traveled leader in Mike Oblinger,” said UConn AD David Benedict. “Mike played an integral role in driving unprecedented fundraising numbers during his tenure and played a key role in my executive team. Mike will be sorely missed, but we couldn’t be happier for him and his family. I commend UNCW Chancellor Volety and the search committee for providing him the opportunity to lead their athletic department."
Before UConn, Oblinger was Director of Major Gifts and Annual Fund at Louisiana State University-Tiger Athletic Foundation. He previously held positions at Nevada, Memphis and Ohio State.
“I am excited about the opportunity to lead UNCW Athletics during a pivotal time of growth and change across the collegiate sports landscape,” Oblinger said. “As a former college basketball player, I understand the unique responsibilities and challenges that student-athletes face while balancing academics and athletics. I am dedicated to teaming up with our coaches and staff, Chancellor Volety and UNCW supporters to enhance the Seahawk experience for our student-athletes, alumni, fans, the university and the community.”
Oblinger played basketball at Monmouth College in Illinois, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. He also holds a master’s degree in sport administration from Western Illinois University. He and his wife, Liz, are the parents of a daughter, Quinn, and a son, Miles.
Photo credit: UConn