Barry McNamara  |   Published July 14, 2022

Alumnus to Lead WIU Athletics

Monmouth graduate Paul Bubb ’79 takes dream job as AD at Western Illinois University.

MONMOUTH, Ill. Paul Bubb grew up east of Western Illinois University in Ipava, following Leatherneck athletics. Decades later, as he completes a successful career spent primarily around Division I athletics, he’s taken the job he’s long desired. Bubb began work as WIU’s new director of intercollegiate athletics on June 27.

PAUL BUBB: Former Fighting Scots player and assistant coach started his new position at WIU in Ju... PAUL BUBB: Former Fighting Scots player and assistant coach started his new position at WIU in June.“Just being back here, having grown up around Western athletics, I don’t know that you could write a story and have it turn out any better than what it has,” said Bubb, whose career has taken him from the California coast to the state of Maine. In 2018, he returned to the area to serve as WIU’s executive director of development.

“Coming back to the Midwest was everything,” he said. “I remember interviewing for an AD job in the 1990s, and one of the questions was, ‘If you get this job, is there anything that would make you decide to leave it?’ I told them, ‘If the job at Western Illinois ever opened up, that’s a job I would have to look at.”

In describing how he wound up back near his hometown – a village of roughly 600 residents in Fulton County – Bubb recalled the first stages in his journey and his original plan to enter the Air Force Academy.

“But I found out I would not be eligible for flight training, so I decided against that,” said the 1975 V.I.T. High School graduate. “It was late July of 1975, and my parents asked me ‘What are you going to do?’”

Bubb recalled being impressed by Monmouth College during the recruitment process, so he and his parents made the trip to Monmouth to see if it was still a possibility.

“We visited in the early evening and met with Glen Rankin, the College’s director of admissions, and Gordon Young, the director of financial aid,” said Bubb. “My parents were blue-collar folks, and they couldn’t imagine affording a school like Monmouth. But both men made my parents feel so good about the school, and that sealed the deal. The relationships that Glen Rankin and Gordon Young established with my parents made them feel so comfortable.”

“Both men made my parents feel so good about the school, and that sealed the deal. The relationships that Glen Rankin and Gordon Young established with my parents made them feel so comfortable.” Paul Bubb

It would not be the last of Bubb’s involvement with Rankin, but first he had to cross a few potential career choices off his list.

“I was all over the board,” said Bubb, when it came to a college game plan. “I thought I might want to major in elementary education and become a principal, but I took a class with Esther White that was basically ‘kiddie art,’ and my creative skills were tested to the max with her.”

FROM SCOT TO LEATHERNECK: Paul Bubb is shown during his Monmouth playing days. FROM SCOT TO LEATHERNECK: Paul Bubb is shown during his Monmouth playing days.That plan was deleted, and so was the idea of preparing for law school. A player on coach Terry Glasgow’s Fighting Scots basketball team for two seasons, Bubb eventually settled on a history major, planning to teach high school or middle school social studies and become a coach. He received top-notch training in the latter area at Monmouth, leading the Scots’ freshman team during his senior year.

“That was the group with Tim Jones, Sam Ferguson, Dave Dietrich and Steve Garber,” said Bubb. “We won both games against Knox, so that was good. In those days, the freshman game against Knox was played right before the varsity game, so there were hundreds of people there to watch. The only problem was that Glasgow would pull some of those guys up to the varsity. But he’d let me have ’em for a half before they rested up for the varsity game.”

One of the varsity’s standouts that year was future M Club Hall of Famer Don Tanney, the father of NFL quarterback and assistant coach Alex Tanney, as well as former WIU athletic director Matt Tanney.

“Besides Coach Glasgow, I also was around Bill Reichow and Bobby Woll,” said Bubb. “They all set the tone for what I wanted to look for as a coach and for how I wanted to move forward personally.”

“Besides Coach Glasgow, I also was around Bill Reichow and Bobby Woll. They all set the tone for what I wanted to look for as a coach and for how I wanted to move forward personally.” Paul Bubb


Bubb’s first job was a teaching and coaching position in the Meredosia-Chambersburg district, about 35 miles southwest of Ipava. But as his second year was about to begin, he learned of the opportunity to serve as director of Monmouth College’s student center. He took the position and also assisted Glasgow with the basketball team. Eventually, he worked on the College’s advancement team, again crossing paths with Rankin.

“In terms of setting the example of being a good person, being a caring person, Glen Rankin is at the top of the list,” said Bubb.

Another formative experience for Bubb was his move to Southern Illinois University in 1985, where he became the Salukis’ first-ever athletic fundraiser. He had dabbled in that area while at Monmouth, helping to establish the Pizza Hut All-Star Basketball Game for graduating high school seniors, an event that area players who graduated in the 1980s and 1990s likely remember well.

In Carbondale, his career was influenced by Jim Livengood, who went on to be the athletic director at the University of Arizona, and by Charlotte West.

“They both set the tone for me for what the job should be about,” said Bubb.

GRADUATION DAY, 1979: Paul Bubb receives his Monmouth College from President DeBow Freed. GRADUATION DAY, 1979: Paul Bubb receives his Monmouth College from President DeBow Freed.It’s a career with many highlights, including serving as the athletic director for schools competing in a national championship game, which happened with Cal State Northridge’s softball team and the University of Maine’s ice hockey team. Bubb, who has also worked at Drake, Cal Poly Pomona, Murray State, Boise State and Idaho State, said that leading previously independent Cal State Northridge into the Big Sky Conference was another career highlight.

WIU’s new athletic director spent his first days on the job in Las Vegas at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics convention. As the post-Fourth of July work week began, Bubb turned his focus to creating a storybook ending for a career that has already seen so many successes and been so rewarding.

“Who would’ve ever thought that a kid who grew up in Ipava, Illinois, would have the chance to do all the things I’ve done?” said Bubb, who holds a master’s degree in sport management from WIU. “I’m so very fortunate.”

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