Welniak Bolsters Redbird Development Effort
July 28, 2005
NORMAL, Ill. - As part of his 60-day plan, Illinois State Director of Athletics Dr. Sheahon Zenger wanted to solidify the athletics department's development effort. He did just that Thursday with the hiring of Randy Welniak, who will serve as the senior associate athletics director for external operations.
"I am extremely excited to attract someone of Randy's skill set and experience to Illinois State," Zenger said. "The fact that we are able to attract this caliber of individual is yet another example of how attractive Illinois State University, under the leadership of Dr. Bowman, and the community of Bloomington-Normal is in the world of intercollegiate athletics."
Zenger expects to have Welniak on board by August 20 and sees him initially focusing entirely on the Redbird development efforts.
"One of my biggest charges in taking this job has been to raise money and revenue," Zenger added. "I've known Randy for close to 10 years. Not only does he have an impressive resumé, I have personally seen him increase annual revenue by 349 percent and construct buildings with major gifts. These are the type of things that we intend to get done at Illinois State University over the next five to seven years."
Welniak joins Illinois State after a three-year stint at Fresno State as the associate athletics director for external operations. Welniak was directly involved with the building of the $5 million Ricchiutti Academic Center and the Duncan Building expansion project, which was completed in October 2004. He assisted in the development of Fresno State's strategic plan and was a driving force in the opening of the Save Mart Center, guiding the department's transition team and serving on the Grand Opening Ceremony Committee.
"The experience at Fresno State has been extremely valuable and rewarding," Welniak said. "I felt fortunate to be able to work with some great coaches and administrators the last three years. On the other hand, I am very excited about the opportunity at Illinois State. It is a program with a great reputation academically and athletically. The coaches and administrative staff are dedicated to the program and have that desire to be very competitive on a national level. My wife and family are excited to be moving to the Bloomington-Normal area and being a part of that community."
In addition to the community and the campus, Welniak is also looking forward to working with Zenger.
"This is a great opportunity to work with Sheahon again," Welniak added. "He knows what it takes to succeed and there is no question that we share that same vision. I'm also looking forward to working with the dedicated athletics department, faculty and university staff. It is an exciting time for Illinois State athletics and I am looking forward to being a part of it."
At Fresno State, Welniak also supervised six sports -- football, women's basketball, softball, men's golf, women's golf and equestrian - and many service areas, such as ticketing, marketing and the athletics training room.
Prior to joining the Bulldog staff, Welniak held a similar position at his alma mater, Wyoming. Welniak joined the Wyoming athletic department in 1996, serving as a development officer for three years, prior to working as the Executive Director of the Cowboy Joe Club for two years and as the associate athletics director for external operations for his final two years. Under his direction, that club raised over $1 million for the first time in history. In addition, he worked on a team that spearheaded a capital campaign to raise $9.4 million for the Rochelle Athletic Center.
Welniak was also responsible for overseeing all external areas of the Wyoming athletics department, including marketing, ticket operations, development and broadcast services. Welniak directed a marketing and advertising program that generated nearly $1 million in annual revenue, which was unprecedented at the school.
Prior to his stint at Wyoming, he worked for six years in the corporate sector, holding positions at American Express and Monfort Food Distribution.
Welniak was a stellar quarterback at Wyoming, guiding the Cowboys to an 11-2 record, a top 10 national ranking and the 1988 Holiday Bowl. He was named the 1988 WAC Offensive Player of the Year and was a first team selection on the CFA Scholar-Athlete team. Welniak won the 1989 Stan Bates Award, given annually to the WAC's top scholar-athlete, and was presented with an NCAA postgraduate scholarship. He earned a bachelor's degree in finance from Wyoming in 1988 and an MBA in 1989.
He and his wife, Wendi, have two sons, Craig, 11, and Michael, 8, and three daughters, Katie, 5, and twins, Emma and Heidi, 1.