TOLEDO, OH - An era is ending at the University of Toledo this week, but not many people will notice. And that is fitting for the career of UT deputy athletic Mike Karabin.
Karabin, 55, is officially retiring this Friday at nearly 33 years as a Rocket student-athlete, coach and administrator. A 1980 graduate of UT, Karabin was inducted into UT's Varsity 'T' Hall of Fame in 2007 as a baseball player and coach. But it is in his later work behind the scenes where Karabin made his greatest impact.
Most recently, Karabin played a lead role in the funding and planning for the "Building Champions" capital campaign that included the construction of the Sullivan Athletics Complex, the renovation of Savage Arena and the construction of the Fetterman Training Center. A generation earlier, he directed the $20 million renovation of the Glass Bowl and construction of the Larimer Building in 1990-91. In 2001-02, he was the driving force behind the construction of the Findlay Building at the Scott Park Campus.
As UT's deputy athletic director, Karabin was responsible for marketing, development, television, radio, sales, sport management, football scheduling, special events, game management, budget management and facilities development. If it happened behind the scenes at UT, then Karabin was probably involved.
"I am proud of what I have helped accomplish in my association with UT Athletics," said Karabin. "I have been enriched by my experience at UT, particularly with all the great people I have had the privilege to work with and come to know as friends over the years. I will truly miss that part of my life.
"I will always be a Rocket, but I feel like it's time for me to pursue other things in my life."
UT Athletic Director Mike O'Brien said Karabin's impact on UT Athletics will be missed.
"Mike Karabin has devoted himself to the University of Toledo as a student-athlete, coach and administrator," said O'Brien. "His induction into the Varsity 'T' Hall of Fame as a student-athlete and coach in the Rockets' baseball program speaks to his accomplishments on the field. As an administrator, Mike has played a major role in the growth of the UT Athletics program in countless ways. He can be very proud of his many achievements at UT. We wish the very best for Mike with his upcoming retirement from UT, and wish him well in all his future endeavors."
As the director of the program's marketing efforts, Karabin helped the football program set a Mid-American Conference record for season ticket sales in each of the past two seasons, including 11,791 in 2011. Throughout Karabin's tenure, UT routinely led the MAC in home attendance in football, men's basketball and women's basketball, and also paced the league in revenue generated by ticket sales, marketing revenue and donations. His efforts in football scheduling helped bring schools such as Syracuse, Minnesota, Purdue, Indiana, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Navy, UNLV, Kansas, Fresno State and Boise State to the Glass Bowl.
Karabin's recent duties also included serving as the department's supervising administrator for baseball, the sport that got him his start at UT.
In 2001, Karabin served seven months as interim athletic director. During his term as interim A.D., Karabin redirected resources in the department, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also spearheaded the drive to get a new playing surface installed into the Glass Bowl in time for the 2001 season. Under Karabin's guidance, the athletic department set a record for revenue generation from ticket sales, sponsorships, advertising and donations. UT set MAC records in football season attendance average (30,014) and single-game attendance (36,852 vs. Navy on Oct. 27) in 2001, and led the nation in attendance as a percentage of capacity (114.4%).
Prior to his appointment as interim A.D., Karabin served as associate athletic director from 1997-2001, assistant athletic director from 1991-97, director of marketing and development from 1987-91 and promotions director from 1979-87. He returned to his position as senior associate athletic director when O'Brien was named athletic director in 2002, and was later promoted to deputy athletic director in 2008.
Karabin played baseball at UT from 1977-78 and won the MAC batting crown as a senior with a .419 average. He signed with the Chicago Cubs and played for two seasons in their organization before returning to UT as a coach. He was the head baseball coach for one season in 1982, leading the Rockets to a second-place finish in the MAC. He was assistant baseball coach from 1979-81, and again from 1983-87.