University of Memphis alums Bill and Nancy Laurie provide lead gift for capital campaign
Tom Bowen took over as the University of Memphis Director of Athletics in June of 2012, and in only one year, he has the Tigers roaring into a new and exciting era.
Bowen began his tenure with an athletics program poised to make a league move from Conference USA to the Big East. Despite the conference realignment carousel continuing to rotate nearly halfway into his first year, Bowen's steady leadership helped Memphis become a charter member of The American Athletic Conference, which began its inaugural year July 1, 2013.
The Memphis athletics leader played an integral role in the formation of The American Athletic Conference and was instrumental in bringing the league's first men's basketball tournament to the Bluff City in March of 2014.
In addition to guiding Memphis through the conference move, Bowen placed his stamp on Tigers athletics. One of his first missions was to evaluate and restructure the athletics department.
Bowen also came in with a plan to increase the department's fundraising efforts to assist with facility upgrades. Under his direction, the Elma Roane Fieldhouse -- home to Memphis women's basketball and volleyball -- improvements were completed with a state-of-the-art weight room, a four-lane training track, an elevated cardio platform, a players' lounge and an enlarged training room with Grimm Tubs-hydroponic pools for injury rehabilitation.
In November of 2012, Bowen received a gift of $2.6 million on behalf of the department from the Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust to support women's athletics. The first phase in using the generous gift is underway with the redesign of the track and field complex on the University's Park Avenue campus. The second construction phase is set to begin in the near future and includes a clubhouse for the Tigers' softball program at its stadium. The new softball clubhouse plans include coaches' offices, meeting and recruiting rooms, indoor pitching and batting areas, an athletic training room, equipment room and laundry room.
In the competition arena, Bowen's first year proved a rather successful one. After a tough start, the Tigers' football squad rebounded to close the campaign with three-straight victories and finished the year with four league wins, the most since 2008. The men's basketball squad posted the sixth 30-win season in school history, swept the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament third round.
The men's tennis squad won the program's first Conference USA championship and received a second-consecutive NCAA Championships berth. The Tigers won their first NCAA Regional with an upset over Ole Miss and advanced to the program's first NCAA Championships Sweet Sixteen. The women's tennis team also made history with its first NCAA Championships appearance as a team. The men's golf squad earned an NCAA Regional berth for a third-straight year. The track and field squads closed out the athletic year by sending a school-record nine student-athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, with five earning All-America honors.
In the classroom, Memphis continued its strong performance in Bowen's first year. Memphis led the league with 228 student-athletes on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll and was second in the number of C-USA Commissioner's Academic Medal recipients with 54.
Memphis athletics also had a Conference USA-best four student-athletes receive the league's Scholar-Athlete Award for their respective sports and had four of its programs earn C-USA Sport Academic Awards, the most of any in the league. Furthermore, Memphis athletics had four programs receive NCAA Public Recognition Awards for their exceptional Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Prior to taking his current post, Bowen served as the athletics director at San Jose State University from 2004-12. While at San Jose State, the core of Bowen's mission was building a "Culture of Champions" academically, athletically and in the community. He led the Spartan Foundation, the department's fundraising component, through consistently challenging and uncertain economic conditions to unprecedented fiscal heights. The Spartans produced annual budget surpluses four-straight years and re-invested their gains back into their student-athletes and teams.
In 2008, San Jose State was named as one of 12 Division I universities cited for Overall Excellence in Diversity in the most recent national study by Texas A&M University on behalf of the NCAA.
Bowen's proven administrative and managerial record at San Jose State resulted in national appointments in college athletics. He served as one of eight Football Bowl Subdivision directors of athletics on the 24-member NCAA Division I Football Issues Committee, an appointment that ended in 2011. In 2009, Bowen was one of 12 named to serve as a mentor to aspiring women and ethnic minority athletics administrators in the NCAA Fellows Leadership Program. He was the Tournament Director for the 2010 NCAA Men's Basketball Division I Championship first and second rounds games played in San Jose.
Bowen joined the staff at San Jose State after serving three years as the Director of Community Affairs and the executive director of the 49ers Foundation for the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League. His Division I experience at the collegiate level includes athletics administration positions at the University of California and Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Calif.
The 1983 graduate of the University of Notre Dame majored in theology/sociology and spent six years studying for the priesthood with the Holy Cross Fathers. Bowen went on to earn a master's degree in administration/education from the University of San Francisco in 1990.
Active throughout the entire Bay Area, he was named to the San Jose Mercury News' Top-25 Most Powerful Sports Figures in the Bay Area. Bowen served on the board of the San Jose Sports Authority, and he was an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco School of Sports Management and at San Jose State University's Department of Kinesiology, where he taught sports management classes.
He is a Level 2 certified member of the College Athletic Business Management Association (CABMA) and has memberships in the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the Association of Fundraising Professionals. He and his wife, Mia, are the parents of three children: sons, Andrew and Peter, and daughter, McKenna.