By: Kevin Ruple
BEREA, Ohio-- When John Bianco '88 was at Baldwin Wallace University, he was known as "Jumping Johnny B". The track standout was a favorite among professors, coaches and his fellow student-athletes. In the 29 years since he left Berea not much has changed except that he is loved now by the folks at the University of Texas at Austin, and for good reason.
A 25-Year Career of Excellence at Texas
Bianco has been at Texas for the past 25 years as its Director of Sports Information and now Senior Associate Athletics Director for Communications. He is a member of the Texas Hall of Honor and recently was highlighted in a UT Homecoming Video featuring former UT and NFL star running back Priest Holmes. When viewing the video, you tell the love and appreciation that Holmes has for Bianco and the passion Bianco has for Holmes and the University of Texas.
Finding His Way to Texas Wasn't Easy
But it wasn't always that easy for Bianco. He has seen the highs and lows of a career in athletic communications at the NCAA Division I level. His perseverance and commitment to excellence and the belief in his talents by the legendary Bill Little at the University of Texas has landed him at UT.
Married to a Baldwin Wallace University Hall of Famer, Sonja Ming Bianco '88, John left Berea after earning a degree in sport management in the spring of 1988. His first stop was at the University of Arkansas as an intern and then to Cal State Fullerton a year later. John's first full-time job at the University of Cincinnati taught him that athletic communications is a fast-paced, high-stress profession that sometimes doesn't go quite the way you hope.
Leaving Cincinnati and Finding a Mentor
After leaving Cincinnati in the spring of 1992, Bianco caught the eye of Little, a Texas Hall of Honor member and NACDA and CoSIDA hall of famer, who was the Associate Athletic Director of Communications. He saw a talented young professional who needed an opportunity at the right school and with the right mentoring. The rest is history -- twenty-five years later -- as Bianco has been the face of the vaunted UT football program that helped to produce Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams (1998) and runners-up Vince Young and Colt McCoy. On a number of occasions over the years, Bianco has been quite visible during the Heisman Trophy presentations on television in his white dress shirt and traditional suitcoat of UT burnt orange.
"The Baldwin Wallace program that sent John to me at Texas has a long and honored tradition of excellence, and we knew right away that John was a great fit at UT," said Little, "He has been a valued member of our athletic community for the past 25 years and is deserving of all of the praise and adulation he receives."
Little also made sure the folks at Cincinnati knew it too. In 1998 at the annual CoSIDA Convention in Orlando, Florida, Little introduced himself to Bianco's former boss who was "holding court" with some fellow SIDs. The gentleman from Cincinnati knew that Little was an icon in the athletic communications business and tried to show his respect. Little would have none of it and said, "thanks for sending us John Bianco. Cincinnati's loss was one of the best-ever gains for the University of Texas." Then Little walked away.
Jumping Johnny B Was Destined According to Coach T
In addition to being a sport management major at BW, John was a four-year member of the student sports information staff (1984-88) and an All-Ohio Athletic Conference long and triple jumper for legendary cross country and track coach and BW Hall of Famer Dr. Bill Taraschke.
"Right from the start, we knew that John was one of our hardest workers, an outstanding leader and teacher and cared about helping others," said Taraschke. "Once he and Sonya met, John essentially put his efforts into helping her win three national titles (heptathlon and high jump twice). Those two were a match made in heaven!"