Mike Bohn was introduced as just the fifth full-time athletic director in University of Colorado history on April 13, 2005, returning to the surroundings where he starred as a prep athlete before embarking on a journey that would take him all over the western half of the United States and finally back home.
Bohn, 50, came to Colorado from San Diego State University, where he left an indelible imprint in just 18 months as the Aztecs' director of athletics. He agreed to a 5-year contract with the Buffaloes and was rewarded quickly for his initial efforts, as in November 2007 he received an extension through the 2011-12 academic year. Then in August 2011, the Board of Regents and the Chancellor saw fit to extend him another five years into 2017.
He replaced Jack Lengyel, who served as interim athletic director for five months after Dick Tharp stepped down in November 2004 after holding the position since 1996. Tharp had followed three legendary men in CU athletic history, Harry Carlson (1927-65), Eddie Crowder (1965-84) and Bill Marolt (1984-96).
Bohn is the first of the five to be named CU athletic director without having previously worked within the CU system. Carlson and Crowder were coaches upon being named, Marolt returned to CU where he coached for 10 years before leaving for the U.S. Olympic ski team, and Tharp was a university attorney with strong CU-Boulder campus ties. But his ties to Boulder were extensive, growing up here with family and friends always in the area.
He accomplished a lot in his first 100 days on the job, from branching out into the community with Chancellor Phil DiStefano at town meetings, to implementing the YOUR TEAM campaign to raise significant funds for immediate scholarship and capital project needs. Several other creative ideas, especially in marketing including Ralphies' Kids Roundup and the Pearl Street Stampede the night before home football games, were established to create better ties with CU and area communities.
Those first 100 days were just the beginning, and six years into his service to CU, he has made major improvements in fundraising, improving CU's facilities, most notably the addition of a practice facility for the basketball and volleyball teams; establishing the Buff Club Cabinet; making huge in-roads in community and campus relations; and working to balance a budget by making tough but necessary cuts, guaranteeing the future success of Colorado's 16 intercollegiate sports.
Perhaps his top "one shining moment" to date took place in the spring of 2010, when he led the university's charge for the Buffaloes to join the Pacific-10 Conference. A very tense period in college athletics, rumors swirling about concerning several schools, he had Colorado's ship steadied throughout and landed CU in a conference that conforms to a perfect fit with its students, alumni and fans on many levels, including academics as well as athletics. Colorado, along with Utah, joined the league on July 1, 2011, making it the Pac-12 Conference.
He has overseen the hiring of eight head coaches, Jon Embree and Dan Hawkins (football), Tad Boyle and Jeff Bzdelik (men's basketball), Linda Lappe and Kathy McConnell-Miller (women's basketball), Roy Edwards (men's golf) and Liz Kritza (volleyball).
Mile High Sports Magazine selected Bohn as its Sports Person of the Year for 2006, as the publication recognized his efforts in his first year on the job. The same publication cited him as the top athletic director in the state in its 2011 "Best Of" edition. In his time at CU, he has quickly grown into one of the top speakers on college athletics in the region, as he is a popular "get" for service clubs, media groups and others.
Bohn's brief tenure at San Diego State featured many remarkable accomplishments, including the instilling of energy, enthusiasm, accountability and determination into the Aztec staff. Officially named SDSU athletic director on October 6, 2003, his immediate task was to unify the athletic department, the campus and the community of San Diego.
Bohn strategically and steadily restructured the SDSU athletic department with emphasis on fund raising, fiscal responsibility, compliance and academics.
Under his watch, San Diego State set a new single-game attendance record in football when more than 57,000 fans watched the Aztecs' win over Idaho State in the 2004 season opener. The average football attendance of 35,995 in 2004 was the best at the school since 1993, with the increase of 14,369 fans per game marking the third largest attendance jump in the country. The SDSU baseball team also set attendance records under his watch.
He landed the San Diego State position after serving five years as athletic director at the University of Idaho (1999-2003), where he first made his mark as a lead administrator in the area of transformation.
At Idaho, he developed projects for new facilities, increased community and corporate support, and produced balanced budgets for the department after inheriting an operation that had accumulated a deficit of over $1 million.
During his five years in Moscow, he oversaw the transition of the Vandals to the Division I-A ranks from the Big Sky Conference. Under Bohn, Idaho began construction on the Vandal Athletics Center, the first facilities improvement for UI athletics in two decades. He was also the driving force behind a 20-percent increase in the Vandal Scholarship Fund and a $350,000 surge in annual corporate support.
Between Idaho and San Diego State, Bohn hired 12 head coaches in all as well as several administrators.
Bohn prepared for his career goal of becoming a Division I athletic director entirely in the state of Colorado, his adopted "native" state despite being born in Illinois; he moved to Colorado with his family when he was 1-year old.
His first job in athletic administration came at the Air Force Academy, where he worked for the better part of nine years (1984-92). During his tenure in Colorado Springs, Bohn advanced from an intern to assistant athletic director. He served as executive director of the Blue and Silver Club, as well as other external operations throughout his stay at the academy. He played a major role in the increase of football season ticket sales from 6,000 to 20,000 and implemented a fundraising campaign that generated $16 million for stadium improvements.
From 1992 to 1995, Bohn served as Director of Marketing for the College Football Association, where he worked for one of the most respected people in the history of college athletics, Chuck Neinas (the one-time Big Eight Conference commissioner). The CFA, the precursor to the current Bowl Championship Series, consisted of six major football conferences encompassing 67 universities. He created and developed the CFA "Good Works Team" which recognizes significant off-the-field accomplishments in the area of community relations of 11 football student-athletes nationally (a team that is still selected today by the American Football Coaches Association).
Bohn was involved in many facets of the organization's operations, including the administration of a $67 million television package involving ABC, ESPN and ESPN2. He also formulated a blueprint for the promotion and development of the image of college football as a whole.
He then moved on to Colorado State University, where he spent the next three years (1996-98) as an associate athletic director for the Rams. At CSU, he was responsible for all external revenue-producing operations, including ticket sales, fundraising through the Greater Ram Club, licensing, corporate sales, signage, capital campaigns and broadcasting rights fees and special events. He also helped escalate student interest in CSU athletics.
He earned his bachelor's of arts degree from the University of Kansas in 1983, where he was recruited as a quarterback and also played baseball (pitcher-first basemen-outfielder). He then graduated with a master's degree in Sports Administration from Ohio University in 1984. While earning his master's, he worked as a graduate assistant football coach for the Bobcats.
Bohn is a former member of the NCAA Championships Cabinet and the Division I-A Athletics Directors Association Executive Council. During his stay at Idaho, he was a member of the Big West Conference executive committee and served on the University of Idaho executive council.
Born November 16, 1960 in Hinsdale, Ill., he graduated from Boulder High School where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He is married to the former Kim Zeren, and the couple has two grown children, Michaelyn and Brandon.