Former Interim Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk announces retirement from Illinois


New interim Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk addresses the media on November 10, 2015 at Memorial Stadium after the University announced his appointment to the position after firing Mike Thomas. Kowalczyk just officially announced his retirement, which will take effect on Aug. 31.

By Gavin Good, Staff writer

On Tuesday afternoon, Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director Paul Kowalczyk officially announced his retirement, which will take effect on Aug. 31.

Kowalczyk is best known for his former service as Illinois’ interim director of athletics for five months, spanning from November 2015 to March 2016 after Mike Thomas was fired.

He spent more than 30 years in college athletics, joining Illinois in 2012. He previously was the athletics director at Colorado State from 2006-2011 and Southern Illinois from 2000-2006. At Colorado State, his programs hauled in 10 conference championships and while with the Salukis, his programs won 15 conference championships.

The Warren, Ohio, native was grateful to current Athletic Director Josh Whitman, who succeeded Thomas, for letting him be a part of the department.

“I want to thank Josh Whitman, who had enough confidence and trust in me to make me a part of his staff,” Kowalczyk said in a press release. “He’s the real deal, a class act and it’s been an honor and privilege to work for him and this great University.”

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He credited collegiate sports as being an instrumental part of his life, from which he drew much inspiration and was challenged day-in, day-out, by the rigors of the competitive world of sports.

“This profession has given me a lot more than I could ever give back,” Kowalczyk said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to touch the lives of many young men and women over the years and to work with some of the most impressive professionals in any industry, bar none.”

Whitman echoed Kowalczyk’s gratitude, saying in a press release he would miss his co-worker greatly. Whitman kept Kowalczyk in a fairly influential place in the department, even after coming in to replace Thomas.

“I will miss, more than I can adequately explain, having Paul in the office next door to mine,” Whitman said. “Having sat in the athletic director’s chair at two previous Division I institutions, and having served as the interim AD at Illinois, Paul has been an invaluable resource and mentor to me as I have gotten my start here in Champaign.”


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