John Cunningham ’97 is the new Director of Athletics at the University of Cincinnati.
What brought you to this position?
I have been in college athletics administration for 15 years. This has included stops at Maryland, TCU, Boise State, Syracuse and Minnesota. The University of Cincinnati has a strong athletics brand, a great city and a beautiful urban campus.
How has your work with students, athletes and the universities impacted you?
I have been able to be involved in the collegiate educational experience of hundreds of young people. Division I college student-athletes are a unique population of student. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and all have interesting stories to tell about how they have been able to ascend to the highest level of college athletics. Being around student-athletes has opened my eyes to the importance of the college undergraduate education in this country. A college education can change the course of a young person’s life. I love being a part of that.
How does your faith play into your role?
My faith has always provided me with perspective. College athletics can tend to be narrowly focused on wins and loses but my faith keeps me grounded. During moments of stress, I have been able to rely on a quick prayer asking for peace of mind. My faith has also allowed me to give myself and others grace when mistakes are made.
How do you see your work evolving?
I have become much more focused on impacting the lives of the student population that I serve and much less focused on outside noise that can accompany my job.
What initiatives or projects are you hoping to start or finish in the coming years?
The University of Cincinnati has really nice facilities overall, but our locker rooms need improvement and we need to improve our indoor practice facilities for all of our sports. I am also looking to enhance our nutrition program for our student-athletes.
What has been your greatest achievement since leaving Pius in 1997?
Raising twin seven year old boys with my wife Caitlin—nothing comes close.
When not working, what hobbies or activities do you enjoy doing?
So much of what we do as a family involves college athletics events. My job has really been a lifestyle for my family. We attend all kinds of college sporting events together. I love to play golf, but my golf opportunities has turned into 4 or 5 charity scrambles per year. My game has not responded well to scramble golf.
What memories do you have of Pius X High School?
I remember having a lot of fun with friends. Some of my classmates had garage bands and we would go watch them play. We also spent a lot of time at my house hanging out and then making our way to Village Inn for late night eats. I always felt like we had great teachers, coaches and staff that really cared for the students.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Pius X played an important role in setting me up for success later in life. My appreciation for the education I have received has grown over the years. I will always be grateful for my four years at Pius X and everyone associated with the school that had an impact on the students.