Four finalists selected for UNK athletics director

Contact: Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor, Communications and Community Relations, 308-224-7473,

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen today released an update on UNK’s national search for a new athletics director, announcing four candidates who will advance as finalists for the position.

The finalists are Jean Berger, Mary Ellen Gillespie, Rick Goeb and Paul Plinske.

UNK in May engaged the executive search firm of Alden and Associates and appointed an advisory committee to assist with the process upon Athletics Director Jon McBride’s announced resignation.

“We are very pleased at the quality of applicants for our position,” said Kristensen. “The committee has worked diligently to assist me in identifying a particularly strong group of experienced and highly successful finalists with unique strengths that give us a number of pleasing options moving forward.”

  • Berger has served as senior associate athletic director/senior woman administrator at the University of Northern Iowa (Division I) since 2008. She held a similar position at Drake University from 1992-2005 and has 28 years of successful collegiate athletics administration experience, including at Wayne State College in Nebraska.
  • Gillespie is associate athletics director for external relations at Bowling Green State University (Division I) where she has also been heavily involved in development/major gifts since 2006. She has extensive experience in development, advancement and student life at Purdue University, the North American Interfraternity Conference, and University of Iowa.
  • Goeb served as director of athletics at Bemidji State University (Division II) from 2001-2013. He has prior experience as senior associate athletic director at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1995-2001) and was head wrestling coach at St. Cloud State (1990-93).
  • Plinske has been director of athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater (Division III) since 2004. He was previously associate director of athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (1994-2004) and involved in athletics administration at the University of Illinois and University of Minnesota while pursuing masters and doctoral degrees, respectively.

Kristensen said campus visits are being scheduled immediately with a goal of naming the new athletics director prior to the start of fall athletics seasons.

“Jon McBride stepped down as director in May and to best meet the needs of our student athletes and programs, we embarked on an expeditious though careful search process,” Kristensen said. Kristensen announced May 13 that McBride would step down July 31 for health reasons, and will become a special assistant to the chancellor to contribute to athletics-related initiatives and projects.

“Even though we have set an aggressive timeline, I’m equally pleased with the quality of our finalists and our process,” Kristensen said. “Our committee has given due time for reflection and the candidates have been able to learn a great deal about our institution, current situation and aspirations.”

Chancellor Kristensen said finalists will be invited to campus in the coming few weeks and that a series of forums will be arranged to enable the campus and Kearney community to meet the candidates and give input. Scheduling details for each visit will be released as soon as details are finalized.