Phill Talavinia enters his 34th year at Bluffton University and 16th as the athletics director. He formerly served as the associate athletics director and head athletic trainer before taking his current post. In his first year as athletics director, Talavinia oversaw the implementation of TEAM Bluffton to help raise money for the athletics program. During the 2004-05 academic year, TEAM Bluffton met the first-season goal of $14,000 to help fund new medical and video equipment for the athletics department. TEAM Bluffton has raised well over $82,000 since the beginning for various projects in support of the entire athletics programs.
Talavinia graduated from Anderson University in 1985 with bachelor of arts degrees in athletic training and business management. He also holds an M.B.A from Bluffton University.
A native of Boston, Pa., he was inducted into the Elizabeth Township Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 for his work in sports medicine. He served as a student assistant at Anderson University and assisted the Chicago Bears athletic training staff for 10 years. Talavinia, who is a member of Bluffton's town council, and his wife, Michelle, a Bluffton University graduate, reside in Bluffton with their daughter, Avery.
As athletics director, Talavinia is responsible for all 14 varsity sports at Bluffton. While serving as the athletics director, he helped to spearhead the construction of Bluffton University's Memorial Field (home of the baseball team), Bluffton Field (the new softball complex) and most recently the Sommer Center. In addition, Talavinia has worked closely with the Bluffton administration to make the updated football/baseball locker room and conference room a reality.
Talavinia has reached another goal he set with his recent appointment to the five-member NCAA Division III Infractions Appeals Committee. “I’ve been looking for a way to get involved” on the national level, said Talavinia, whose three-year term begins Jan. 17, 2015. “It’s good for me, the institution and for the Heartland Conference.” With his four fellow committee members, he will hear appeals of infractions—from financial to recruiting-related violations—charged against Division III schools nationwide.
From Athletic Trainer to Athletics Director
By: Kylee Burkholder, public relations
February 11, 2014
Phill Talavinia wanted to be in sports, even it if wasn’t as an athlete. Bluffton’s athletics director used college majors in athletic training and business administration to do just that.
While still a student at Anderson University, Talavinia became a member of the Chicago Bears football training staff. He spent part of his summers at the Bears’ training camp, where he worked his way up from doing mostly grunt work to taping ankles and being an extra set of eyes on the field, he says.
He ultimately worked 10 summers for the Bears, well after graduating from Anderson in 1985 and starting work at Bluffton as an athletic trainer and director of Bren-Dell Hall. He moved up to head athletic trainer and associate athletics director and, when Carlin Carpenter retired in 2003, was promoted to his current position.
“The time was right,” says the Boston, Pa., native. “I had mentors tell me that they always knew I would become an athletics director. I was drawn more to that side of athletics.”
Now in his 11th year as Bluffton’s head athletics administrator, Talavinia says the biggest challenge he faced while making the transition from athletic training was a changed relationship with coaches and staff.
“I went from working with coaches and staff to managing them,” he says. “That was probably the hardest transition for me.”
Among his accomplishments after succeeding Carpenter was helping implement TEAM Bluffton to raise money for intercollegiate athletics. “We didn’t have a program like this before,” he says. “A lot of other schools had something like it. We took bits and pieces from other schools’ programs and made it fit our own.”
Talavinia, who earned an MBA from Bluffton, hopes to continue working at the university for the foreseeable future. “I work with wonderful people, I have great friends in the community and it is a great place for me and my family,” he says. “I want to stay around as long as I can.”