A Michigan native was tabbed Ferris State University’s next Athletics Director as Perk Weisenburger was appointed to lead Bulldog Athletics in an announcement made Aug. 25, 2010, by FSU Vice President for Administration & Finance Jerry Scoby.
Weisenburger most recently had served on the senior staff as the Associate Athletics Director for External Operations at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas since 2005. He’s a 1979 graduate of Central Michigan University and the former Director of Athletics at NCAA Division I Illinois State University for five years.
His appointment came following a nationwide search and screening process that yielded more than 75 applicants and involved a 10-member search committee. He replaced former FSU Athletics Director Tom Kirinovic, who retired after more than 27 years as a member of the Bulldog Athletics Department. Weisenburger began his duties at Ferris on Friday, Sept. 10, 2010.
“Perk brings an incredible amount of experience in multiple athletic settings that will be extremely helpful as he prepares to lead FSU Athletics,” Scoby said. “He was a student-athlete and understands how important this experience is to both the student-athletes and the university.
“Overall, I was impressed with the breadth and depth of our pool of candidates for this position and he emerged at the top of that list in the process,” he added.
As the athletics director, Weisenburger is responsible for the operations of Ferris State’s athletics department, which currently sponsors 15 intercollegiate varsity sports (eight for women and seven for men). Fourteen of the sports participate at the NCAA Division II level in the highly-competitive Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) while men's hockey competes at the NCAA Division I level in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).
“We’re very pleased that Perk Weisenburger has accepted our offer to become the Athletics Director at Ferris State University,” said FSU President David L. Eisler. “He brings a strong background of experience and is well prepared to help Ferris Athletics continue to grow, help student-athletes get a great education, and to prepare our teams for competition.”
In his tenure at Nevada, Las Vegas, Weisenburger oversaw the coordination and operation of many external functions such as athletic marketing and promotions, licensing and athletic ticketing. He also served as the department's liaison to multi-media rights partner International Sports Properties (ISP).
Prior to arriving at UNLV, Weisenburger spent five years (1999-2004) leading the athletics department at Illinois State and previously worked in athletics administration at other NCAA Division I institutions such as Wake Forest, Central Michigan, Washington and Houston. He was the Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations at CMU from 1989-95.
Weisenburger graduated from CMU with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He also earned a master's degree in sports administration from Ohio University (1982). He and his wife, Buffy, who are both Michigan natives, are the parents of two sons, Jack and Joe.
“It’s an exciting opportunity that presents itself at Ferris State University and our family is thrilled to be returning to Michigan,” Weisenburger said. “I’m looking forward to becoming a part of Bulldog Athletics and helping to continue the solid tradition of academic and athletic success while cultivating an atmosphere of enthusiasm and pride that reflects Ferris State’s past, present and future.”
Weisenburger’s career to date is filled with many impressive highlights.
While at UNLV, Weisenburger secured new multi-year agreements with an institutional licensing company, broadcast entities, website providers and spearheaded the department’s graphic refreshing and branding campaign. Licensing royalty revenue went up by more than 87% in his tenure and he was the point person in outsourcing multimedia/sponsorship rights to ISP that brought the school significant revenue over the term. He also led a process that revised, merged and implemented a new corporate relations structure resulting in a 22% revenue increase in 2006-07. Additionally, he provided administrative oversight for the installation of new technology, video boards and signage in 2008 while also serving as the university’s liaison with fulfillment oversight of various cash and gift-in-kind partner contracts.
“Perk Weisenburger is a fantastic hire for Ferris State University and is easily one of the finest athletic administrators I have ever worked with,” said UNLV Athletics Director Jim Livengood. “He cares deeply about students, faculty and staff, and will have a tremendous commitment. I would consider this one of great hires of the year in intercollegiate athletics and Ferris should be commended for running an excellent search and ending up with a great choice.”
Prior to his arrival in Las Vegas, Weisenburger spent a year (2004-05) as a consultant to Division I institutions and organizations for research, data collection, analysis and consultation. His projects included items such as a feasibility study of a priority men’s basketball seating plan at Ball State University and assisting the Division I-AA Athletic Director’s Association with enhancement initiatives.
While serving as the AD at Illinois State, Weisenburger secured funding and student fee support for new construction and facility enhancements addressing both competitive and welfare needs. He also attained the first seven-figure gift to athletics for the construction of the Kaufman Football Building and a naming gift of $500,000 for the Owen Strength and Conditioning Center. The RedBirds won 23 Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Championships in his tenure as athletics director and finished in the top three of the MVC All-Sports Standings all five years, including one first-place performance and three runner-up efforts.
“With his skill set and experience in external relations, fundraising and marketing, I believe Perk will be a perfect fit for Ferris State University,” said GLIAC Commissioner Dell Robinson. “He’s an experienced administrator who’s seen athletics at different levels and will be a tremendous addition bringing great value to both the institution and the conference.”
Weisenburger oversaw the successful completion of Illinois State’s NCAA Certification process in 2002 and secured the 2005 State Farm MVC Women’s Basketball Tournament through a competitive bid process. Student-Athlete’s earned an exhausted eligibility graduation rate of 85%, provided more than 1,200 hours of annual community service and participated in interview and job skills seminars with senior professionals under his watch. He also revitalized the Student-Athlete Academic Excellence Banquet by acquiring State Farm Insurance as the event underwriter, which allowed over 550 student-athletes, faculty/staff, families and donors to gather on-campus annually to support outstanding academic achievement.
Before his first athletics director position at Illinois State, Weisenburger worked from 1995-99 as the Associate Director of Athletics for Internal Operations at Wake Forest University where he was directly responsible for daily and comprehensive oversight of eight sports, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, game operations and facility management. He was president of the National Association of Athletic Development Directors (NAADD) while at Wake Forest in 1995-96 and served on numerous Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) committees. Additionally, he assisted in the construction planning and operation of new and renovated facilities besides coordinating search processes for the hiring of four head coaches and several other key department support personnel.
Weisenburger was the Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations at Central Michigan from 1989-95 and was directly responsible for oversight of six sports as well as other support positions. He supervised the Chippewa Club where annual private contributions increased 66%, major donors increased 41% and total membership went up nearly 22% over a four-year span. He also coordinated the sales efforts that helped CMU lead the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in average football attendance from 1991-94. In his time with the Chippewas, Weisenburger negotiated and coordinated a three-year radio broadcast contract and developed a 14-station statewide network generating a sizeable annual gain for the university.
He began his career as a graduate assistant at Ohio University in 1980-81 where he coordinated ticket promotions and basketball game management. From there, he was the manager of athletic marketing and promotions at the University of Houston from 1982-84 before becoming the director of athletic marketing and promotions at the University of Washington from 1984-89.
Weisenburger’s time at Washington was marked by assisting in the writing and selling of radio bid specifications that awarded the then single largest broadcast rights fee ever in college athletics in 1985. He also helped to generate dollars annually as an executive committee member for a grocery promotion and worked on a season ticket sales campaign that filled the new 13,000-seat upper deck in Husky Stadium in 1987.
A Mount Pleasant (Mich.) native, Weisenburger attended Central Michigan on a baseball scholarship and was a three-year letterwinner for the Chippewas. He was the captain of CMU’s 1980 MAC Championship team and claimed Academic All-MAC laurels. He later served as a graduate assistant coach in the baseball program at Ohio.
He’s been active in community service throughout his administrative career, including serving as the co-chair of the annual Bloomington (Ill.) OSF St. Joseph Hospital Foundation fundraising gala in 2003 and as a youth baseball coach in the Paseo Verde Little League in Henderson, Nev., for five years. He’s also a current board of directors member for the Josh Stevens Foundation, which helps remind children that there is a whole world in need of more acts of kindness.
“We’re pleased to have Perk join us here at Ferris,” said Scoby. “His expertise will be invaluable to FSU in the years ahead.”