Former University of Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn returned to campus Saturday to watch the Bearcats football team take on the University of Connecticut on homecoming.
Bohn was announced as University of Southern California’s athletic director Thursday after five years in the same role at UC.
“Coming back here today was very, very difficult,” Bohn said. “I put my heart and soul into this program and very proud of what we accomplished. So many people that have helped us be successful … I take great pride in knowing we had so many people in our corner and that’s something I’ll always have with me as part of my career of being a Bearcat.”
At UC, Bohn made numerous hires including football coach Luke Fickell, basketball coaches Michelle Clark-Heard and John Brannen and baseball coach Scott Googins. He also oversaw the $86 million expansion to Nippert Stadium and the $87 million renovation of Fifth Third Arena in 2017-18.
This isn’t the first time UC has lost a member in athletics to the west coast, as head men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin left for UCLA in April. Cronin labeled the UCLA job as a destination job for all college coaches.
UC isn’t a member of one of the Power Five conference (Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 10, Big 12, Pacific-12, Southeastern Conference), but Bohn said it was fair to ask how Cincinnati can become a destination for athletic directors and coaches.
“Unfortunately, it’s the business anymore, Bohn said. “The business of presidents, athletic directors and coaches. The transit nature and that’s very frustrating for all of us associated with it. The true destination opportunities you can probably count with one hand and they’re very unique. In the end it’s about ensuring student athletes and helping them be successful, and that’s one thing I’m extremely proud of here was being able to do that.”
USC is a member of the Pac-12 and its athletic program and Los Angeles market presented an opportunity that Bohn couldn’t pass up.
“It’s ultimately about competing at the highest level,” Bohn said. “And at USC, that really hooks you. Their incredibly history, aura of competitiveness, competing for national championships and the Rose Bowl is a hook. That’s the competitor. That’s the stage, and that’s why you want to play for big time opportunities like that.”
Bohn said the most emotional part of his departure was hearing from UC student-athletes, and he wanted to return to say goodbye to President Nevile Pinto, the football team, band and students.
“It’s well documented about some others that have missed that opportunity when they left here,” Bohn said. “I thought it was really important to do that. I want them to know they touched my heart and touched this program.”
As for what’s next for UC, Pinto named Executive Vice President Ryan Hays the acting athletics director Thursday.
“It’s important to leave the right way and I want to make sure Ryan Hays and any other administrator know I’m going to do anything I can to help them be successful,” Bohn said.
Pinto said a search for a full-time athletics director is underway.