OREM — Vince Otoupal sounded like the former college athlete he is when he talked about what will lift Utah Valley University's athletic program to the next level.
"The bottom line, winning is a great marketing initiative," Otoupal said. "People like to be around winners. People like to be around success. Winning and success, those are the things we're going to strive for."
That, among other things, was enough to convince UVU to hire the former Stanford Cardinal as the school's new athletic director Thursday, a move that becomes official July 15.
With Athletic Director Mike Jacobsen retiring after 29 years in the post, UVU was intent on finding a successor that could take UVU's athletic program into a new era as part of the Western Athletic Conference.
Otoupal's experience as a student-athlete, coupled with years of athletic administration experience at Stanford, San Jose State and Cal State Monterey Bay, saw him rise quickly among a total of 80 applicants. He joined Utah State's Kent Stanley, UVU's Jared Sumsion and New Mexico's Kurt Esser as one of four finalists for the position two weeks ago.
In the end, UVU President Matthew Holland and the school tabbed Otoupal for the job.
"He's a winner," Otoupal said of Holland. "He wants to win. He wants UVU to be the top of the WAC and be in national rankings and be in national tournaments. ... That's what is so exciting about his vision and where Wolverine athletics is going."
The move marks Otoupal's second-consecutive position at a school lacking a football program, with men's basketball, baseball and wrestling among UVU's more marketable sports in recent years.
Stanford's former special teams player of the year and self-proclaimed "football guy", however, was quick to point out the overall team experience, coupled with success, can make for an equally successful athletic program.
"It was such a great team that I was a part of in college, but I had that same feeling of teamwork and camaraderie on UVU's campus when I was there," Otoupal said. "There was the same kind of like-mindedness and the same kind of goals that were in place. I don't think you can necessarily classify it as a football thing, but more of a team thing."
Otoupal hearkened to his college playing experiences, as well as his days in the Marines and athletic administration, when asked what helped prepare him for this next career step.
"You line those (experiences) up — that's not a path that's been traveled by a lot of people," Otoupal said. "I think I've been lucky enough to be in those five different places and have those experiences and learn from each one of those."
While Otoupal's enthusiasm is undisputed, there was considerable concern among UVU athletic department officials throughout the hiring process about their own future in the program after a new hire was made. After 29 years under Jacobsen, many worried about whether a new athletic director would want an equally new staff on board.
Otoupal, however, expressed confidence in the direction UVU was headed under the support staff already in place.
"What UVU has done in the past, that trajectory is going the right way," he said. "I think it's way too early for anybody to be worried about what the future is. We're focused on our student-athletes and we're focused on their success and we're focused on winning a whole bunch of games and athletic awards.
"If somebody's worried about their job, they know more about it than I do," Otoupal added.
Matt Petersen is the sports web editor for DeseretNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TheMattPetersen.
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