Tramel: Uncle Kevin played a huge role in new OSU athletic director Chad Weiberg's career
Kevin Weiberg spent nine years as the Big 12 commissioner. He wasn’t always the most demonstrative administrator.
“I remember guys asking me, after a team wouldn't make the NCAA Tournament that everybody thought should have been selected, why wasn't I pitching a fit,” Weiberg said.
Indeed, Weiberg was a low-key leader. But a good one. Big 12 football thrived under Weiberg’s leadership. He kept all 12 schools rowing in the same direction. Two years after Weiberg’s departure, the Big 12 nearly imploded, and soon enough, four schools left the conference.
So Weiberg knew what he was doing. And his nephew noticed.
Chad Weiberg is three weeks into his job as OSU’s athletic director, a position he has in part because of the happenstance of birth. Not that Uncle Kevin got him the job. Uncle Kevin showed him such a job was possible.
“I had a role model right there in the family,” Chad Weiberg said. “I might not have even known that was a path you could go down except for getting to watch what he did in his profession.”
Mick and Kevin Weiberg are brothers. As Kevin embarked on a 40-year-plus career in athletic administration, Mick Weiberg went into coaching, including a long stretch at Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa. Chad’s brothers, Brett and Jared, migrated onto their father’s route. Chad took the administration path.
“As I was thinking I wouldn't be as good a coach as my dad or brothers,” Chad Weiberg said, administration “might be a path I would want to take to stay involved in athletics.
“Kevin has had an incredible career. He is always someone I looked up to, probably more than he knows, and was always there for me when I had questions about the profession or a career opportunity.”
Kevin Weiberg, 65, grew up in the southern Kansas town of Anthony. He graduated from Kansas State, worked in media relations and marketing at Wayne State, Wichita State and Maryland, then was hired by the Big Ten in 1989. Nine years later, the Big 12 came calling; he became the conference’s second commissioner.
Chad Weiberg, growing up in Stillwater and Tonkawa, followed his uncle’s career closely.
“We've always been close to Mick and Vina and the family,” Kevin Weiberg said on July 1 in Stillwater, attending his nephew’s introductory press conference. “I got a chance to be a real part of Chad growing up, being around him a lot.
“He always had an interest in organizing things. It just felt like such a natural opportunity for him, on the administrative side.”
Chad Weiberg graduated from OSU in 1994, began his own career and periodically would visit his uncle in Chicago or Dallas to pick his brain.
Chad Weiberg has the same low-key demeanor as his uncle, never taking over a room by walking in but often leaving having won it over by his perspectives.
“You can see from Chad's demeanor, he's a very thoughtful person,” Kevin Weiberg said. “Different personalities can succeed. Different people have different strengths that people need at different times in organizations.
“Given the challenges that lie ahead, the empowerment of athletes, the way systems are moving, it's great to have someone who can see the bigger picture and is willing to play more of that sort of servant leader role. Seems like the right fit at the right time.”
From the podium on July 1 in Stillwater, Chad Weiberg jokingly told the story that he became an administrator “because my dad said, 'Don't be a coach.’ But really it was Kevin.
“I only hope I can be as close to as good as he is, and I'm going to go ahead and thank him here in advance for any advice he is willing to give me in the future.”
Kevin Weiberg left the Big 12 in 2008 to run the Big Ten Network, after being rebuffed by OU, Texas, Nebraska and Texas A&M to form a Big 12 Network. He later helped the Pac-12 form a network and now lives in Wichita, Kansas, where he is a sports consultant.
Which is more bonanza for OSU. Living in the heart of Big 12 country, Kevin Weiberg indeed should be a great resource for the Cowboys’ new AD.
“I'm happy to do that for him when the time is right,” Kevin Weiberg said. “I don't go around calling people, offering my advice. But if people reach out to me, I'm happy to give out my two cents worth.”
Kevin Weiberg undersells himself. The Big 12 would have been much better off listening to him all those years ago. Chad Weiberg certainly has prospered taking his uncle’s counsel.
Chad Weiberg, 49, has taken the right steps along his career. Leaving OSU in 2004 for Kansas State, where he spent 11 years in fundraising and administration. Then two years as deputy AD at Texas Tech, returning to Stillwater in 2017 as deputy AD.
“He’s had great experiences,” said Kevin Weiberg. "I think that's so valuable. Worked with some really good people … seen some good people in action. And that makes a world of difference.
“I just think about my own progression, to the commissioner job. Had I not have had a chance to work for (Big Ten commissioner Jim) Delany and be in those kinds of positions, it would have been much harder.”
Chad Weiberg said leaving OSU in 2004 was scary, because “I knew if I chose to leave, then the odds of me getting to come back would be slim. No matter how good I might do, the stars or timing would have to align, and what are the odds that would happen?”
But the stars and timing indeed aligned, and on July 1, Chad Weiberg ascended to a job he wanted since he was a Tonkawa teenager.
“What a great day,” Kevin Weiberg said. “Fabulous to see him in this role.”
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.