CINCINNATI — Former Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn takes over at Cincinnati with one overriding priority: Get the Bearcats into a different conference.
Bohn was hired Thursday to try to do for the Bearcats what he did during his eight years in Colorado. Bohn led the Buffaloes from the Big 12 to the Pac-12, and Cincinnati hopes his experience in conference jumping can be put to use.
"One of his main accomplishments in eight years there, what was most talked about among his accomplishments was his ability to lead that university into the Pac-12 Conference," President Santa J. Ono said while introducing Bohn.
Bohn resigned at Colorado last May when the administration decided to go in a different direction. Colorado hired former Texas Rangers executive Rick George.
Cincinnati's job opened when Whit Babcock left for Virginia Tech on Jan. 24.
The Bearcats have successful football and basketball programs, but got left behind when the Big East broke up. They tried to join the ACC, but were rebuffed. They had to settle for the new American Athletic Conference, which is in flux with Louisville leaving for the ACC after this season.
Bohn was hired shortly before the seventh-ranked Bearcats hosted No. 22 Connecticut on Thursday night, a matchup of schools that tried to get into the ACC but failed. With conference realignment settled for now, the Bearcats will have to bide their time and try to make themselves a more attractive option when the next round of shuffling occurs.
"Obviously, that's the issue, and the opportunity," Bohn said. "We talked a great deal about it. The trustees were very clear about their commitment and trying to help.
"We talked at length about it and understand the landscape. I believe I've got a good sense of what's going on around the country. I lived it in the move to the Pac-12."
Cincinnati has started a one-year, $86 million renovation to its on-campus Nippert Stadium, bringing the football stadium's capacity to 40,000. It has to figure out something to do with its basketball facility, which has thousands of empty seats even though the Bearcats have one of the nation's best teams. They have yet to sell out the 13,176-seat arena for a game — they've attracted 10,000 fans only three times this season.
Bohn needs to translate the teams' success into more support.
"We certainly want to take advantage of the momentum that the institution currently has," he said.