BOWLING GREEN — Growing up, Chris Kingston had a simple goal.
“My dad retired with 33 years in the FBI, and all I ever wanted to be was an FBI agent,” he said. “I did two internships with the FBI in Miami, and I got my undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida.
“My plan was to go four years in the Army as a military intelligence officer, then get into the FBI.”
But after 15 years in the military, Kingston started working at the United States Military Academy — and his life was forever changed.
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“Something special happened at West Point,” he said. “I was one of the seven active duty military people in the athletics department.
“When I retired, I was able to stay there. And working there helped me realize [college athletics] was what I wanted to do when I grew up.”
Kingston was introduced as Bowling Green State University’s 13th director of athletics on Monday. He replaces Greg Christopher, who left in May to become Xavier University’s athletics director.
Kingston, who received a five-year contract with a base salary of $245,000 per year, will begin his duties at Bowling Green on July 15.
BGSU president Mary Ellen Mazey said she was impressed by Kingston’s military background.
“It showed me he has great management skills, and it showed me he has great leadership skills,” she said. “He led a group of paratroopers — and that’s not an easy task.”
Kingston said his experiences in the military “are so compatible to what we do in athletics, it’s unbelievable. I’ve been responsible for millions of dollars in budgets — and people’s lives — since I was 22 years old.
“Both jobs are about two things: Management and leadership. And they have to go together. I did that as a platoon leader, as a staff officer, as a company commander.”
Mazey said Kingston’s main responsibility will be to bring Bowling Green’s athletic budgets in line with those of the rest of the Mid-American Conference schools.
“We’re in the bottom third of the MAC in terms of our athletic budgets,” Mazey said. “I think our 18 sports did very well last year — we had five sports in the top half of the MAC and seven others that were close.
“So it’s not just resources [that define success], but resources help. [Kingston] came in with a plan to increase resources, and that’s what I wanted to hear.”
While Kingston said increasing BG’s budgets may be his primary goal, that isn’t his sole goal.
“My first charge is to work on the budget, within my means, so we can reach the goal of having an operating budget that is average for the Mid-American Conference,” Kingston said.
“My job in athletics also is to engage and attract students — and not just student-athletes. As cliché as it is, athletics are the front porch of the institution. My job is to make sure that, once they reach the front porch, they get to the family room and the living room and make that a place where they want to stay. …
“My third job is to make sure we ourselves, starting here in BG. … If we’re a partner with our community, this can be something phenomenal.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.