As Luis Proenza prepares to leave the top job at the University of Akron, he’ll join a elite club: people with bobbleheads made in their likeness.
UA’s athletic department is investing $12,780 to create 2,000 of the collectible novelties to give away at Tuesday’s men’s home basketball game against the University at Buffalo.
UA had customized bobbleheads only for men’s basketball coach Keith Dambrot, Zippy the kangaroo and basketball star LeBron James until adding its president.
“We thought it was a cool, sports-related way to honor Dr. P.,” UA Athletic Director Tom Wistrcill said.
The bobbleheads are a tribute to the man who “has ensured that the university provides our student-athletes and coaches with first-class facilities and other resources necessary to compete for championships,” he said.
Wistrcill approached Proenza with the idea of customizing a bobblehead as he nears the end of his 15 years as president in June. Proenza will step down to take a yearlong sabbatical and then to teach full-time at UA.
Proenza agreed to the bobblehead, after some back and forth about what it would be wearing. The decision was a typical Proenza look: a dark suit and yellow tie.
UA ordered the bobbleheads from Consolidus, one of two area companies from which it bought a total of $473,700 in promotional T-shirts, pens, backpacks and other novelties last year, UA spokeswoman Eileen Korey said.
Consolidus, in turn, worked with Synergy Imports in St. Paul, Minn., which has a manufacturing plant in China.
“We send over pictures of the person from all different angles, and they work on molds,” said Aubrey Cocklin, director of client services. “We go back and forth to make sure everybody’s happy.”
Possibly, that will make 2,000 people happy on Tuesday.
Four-hundred season-ticket-holder accounts each will get vouchers by mail for one bobblehead and the rest of the novelties will go to other fans at the game.
“This wasn’t No. 1 on my bucket list, but I appreciate the attention,” Proenza said.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at email@example.com or 330-996-3729.