“We’ve been apart for 18 months now, and I just made a family decision that had to be made,” Farina said.
For Farina, it was a decision that came to a head in late August, when he returned from a weekend at work in Indianapolis. Farina had been at a convention for all sports information directors at universities which would be hosting any basketball games in the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2004, and came back enthusiastic to get back to work.
“When I came back in August, I was all ready to come back to work and get going,” Farina said. “But that’s when I made a family decision, and told (Athletics Director) Bill Cords that I would not be coming back this year.”
Cords, who had a hand in the hiring of both Laura and John Farina, said that he understood the decision.
“When John came here his wife had recently become the head volleyball coach, and he was working in the Sports Information Department,” Cords said. “A year later he became the sports information director, and soon after that his wife was hired to be the head volleyball coach at Auburn, and they have had to be apart ever since.”
Farina’s career began in sports information in 1984 at Lake Superior State in Sault Sainte Marie, Mich, where he headed up the Sports Information Department until 1987. His next move was to the assistant sports information position for a little over a year at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Farina’s longest stay in his career was the assistant sports information director at Michigan State, a post he held from October 1988 until September 1999. It was at Michigan State where Farina met the former Laura Bush, who was working with the Spartans volleyball team. The pair married on May 25, 1996, and have had to endure career-motivated separations since that time.
“You don’t get married to be separated for a long time,” Farina said.
The timing of looking for Farina’s replacement comes on the brink of the basketball season and in the middle of many fall sports seasons, but Assistant Sports Information Director Blain Fowler feels confident there will be a good number of applicants for the job.
“I hope we can find someone of high quality to replace John,” Fowler said. “Most sports information director openings are filled during the summer, but I’m sure we’ll get a good pool of applicants.”
Cords is also confident that the upswing of the Athletics Dpartment in recent years opens up the position to a greater range of applicants.
“When you become better as a university and become elevated like our athletics program has, I think that it attracts more people, and the kind of people that we will want to hire,” Cords said. “And that will help us in our search for a new sports information director.”
“Our athletics program has really been elevated over the past couple of years and with the trip to the Final Four last year, those things will both make it easier to find someone,” he said.
Farina’s restless nature and distinctive pacing back and forth were present at nearly every Golden Eagle athletic event for four years, as he became increasingly attached to the university.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and Marquette’s been good to me,” Farina said. “I’ve liked being here, and I like Milwaukee a lot more then I thought I would when I first moved here.”
Members of the Athletic Department expressed their disappointment at the news of his departure.
“Whenever you have someone with a program for as long as John has been, it’s always a big loss,” Fowler said. “He’ll be tough to replace. But life continues on and he’s moving on and doing what’s best for him.”