Paul Plinske named UNK athletics director

Contact: Todd Gottula, Director of News and Internal Communications, 308.865.8454,

UNK Athletics Directors (1945-present)
Charlie Foster (1945-71)
Al Zikmund (1971-87)
Dick Beechner (1987-95)
Dick Dull (1995-98)
Mike Sumpter (1998-02)
Jon McBride (2002-13)

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney Chancellor Doug Kristensen today announced Paul Plinske as the university’s new director of intercollegiate athletics. He will begin his duties Sept. 1.

Plinske, currently director of athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, has led the Division III school since 2004. UW-Whitewater is a 20-sport NCAA Division III athletics program that includes 700 student athletes and 50 coaches and staff members.

“Paul brings vision and a wealth of experience and noteworthy accomplishments to UNK,” Kristensen said. “He is the best fit for moving our athletic program forward in a time of rapid change, challenges and opportunities in collegiate athletics.”

Under Plinske’s leadership UW-Whitewater won nine national championships, had seven national runner-up finishes, won 42 conference titles and secured more than $12 million through fundraising to support facility enhancements, including an $8 million outdoor athletic complex renovation. He also recently concluded a three-year term as chair of the NCAA Division I, II and III Women’s Gymnastics Committee.

“It is an honor to be selected as the next director of athletics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney,” Plinske said. “I am genuinely excited to be in a position to collaborate with the campus and community to further advance the mission of the university and Loper athletics.

“I would like to thank Chancellor Kristensen for this outstanding opportunity,” he added. “I’m proud to be joining the Loper family and Kearney community.”

During Plinske’s tenure, UW-Whitewater experienced tremendous financial growth to support its programming and operations. Corporate sponsorships and ticket revenue quadrupled the past four years, a major reason being an increase in Warhawk football attendance. For the past nine seasons UW-Whitewater was among the top three in Division III attendance, averaging 7,552 spectators per game.

A native of Minneapolis, Plinske received his doctorate in sports administration from the University of Minnesota. His master’s is from the University of Illinois, and his undergraduate degree is from Bethel University. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have two daughters, Allison and Lauren.

Previously, Plinske was associate director of athletics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse from 1999-2004 and involved in athletics administration at the University of Illinois and University of Minnesota.

Kristensen praised the work of the campus search advisory committee, chaired by Dr. Scott Unruh. “I would like to recognize and thank Scott and the dedicated members of the search committee. They have done an outstanding job,” Kristensen said. “I also appreciate the input I received from the campus and Kearney community.”

Plinske replaces Jon McBride, who is transitioning from athletics director to a special assistant to the chancellor for athletics-related initiatives and projects.


Photo by Corbey Dorsey/UNK News Chancellor Doug Kristensen announces Paul Plinske as the University of Nebraska at Kearney’s new athletics director during a news conference Wednesday. Plinske will begin his duties Sept. 1.