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University of Memphis Athletics Director Tom Bowen heads to the Liberty Bowl to accept Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork's #Chillin4Charity challenge and hands out a few challenges of his own!
Tom Bowen took over as the University of Memphis Director of Athletics in June of 2012, and in his short time leading the department, 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 developed a strategic plan to increase the athletic department's fundraising efforts. 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 secured a multi-million dollar gift from the Helen and Jabie Hardin Charitable Trust to support women's athletics. The first phase of the generous gift was the design and construction of a new track and field complex on the University's Park Avenue campus. As part of the Hardin Charitable Trust gift, the second phase includes a clubhouse for the Tigers' softball program. 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 December of 2013, Interim President Brad Martin and Tom Bowen announced that alumni Bill and Nancy Laurie had made a gift of $10 million to the capital campaign for athletic facilities. This is the single largest philanthropic gift in the history of the athletic department, and the second-largest gift in the history of the University of Memphis.
By securing the $10 million lead gift, the athletic department leadership reached a significant benchmark in a capital campaign goal of $40 million, less than 120 days after the plan was unveiled by President Martin. The capital campaign calls for a new men's basketball practice and training facility and an indoor football practice complex. It will additionally fund comprehensive upgrades and renovations to existing facilities including FedExPark and the Hardin Family Sports Complex.
Bowen's respect from his colleagues along with his experience and knowledge of football were pivotal in landing him a position on the College Football Playoff organization's Athletic Directors Advisory Council in early 2014. Previously he served on the Athletic Directors Advisory Board of the BCS in 2013.
Also in 2014, Bowen was voted to represent the American Athletic Conference on the NCAA Division I Leadership Council by his fellow athletic directors from the conference. The NCAA Leadership Council is comprised of athletics directors, faculty representatives and conference commissioners from every Division I conference. It serves as an advisory body to the NCAA Division I Board of Directors.
In the competition arena, Bowen's first two years have been rather successful.
The Memphis men's basketball team advanced to the NCAA Tournament third round each of the last two years. The 2012-13 season saw the Tigers post the sixth, 30-win season in school history as well as sweep the Conference USA regular season and tournament titles. The 2013-14 squad finished in a three-way tie for third place in the ultra-competitive new American Athletic Conference including two wins over defending national champion Louisville. The 2013-14 season also saw the basketball program rank in the top-10 in home attendance in NCAA Division I basketball for the fifth time in the last seven years.
Under Bowen's administration, the groundwork for the future of the Tiger football program has been laid and it is well apparent the program is heading in the right direction with major strides made over the last two seasons.
Other athletic programs have enjoyed unprecedented success during Bowen's tenure heading the department.
The rifle team posted a third-place finish in small bore at the NCAA National Championship in 2014, the best finish in program history.
The men's tennis squad won the Conference USA championship in 2013. In 2014, men's tennis advanced to the NCAA Championships for a third-consecutive year. In 2013, 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 team advanced to the Regional finals again in 2014. The women's tennis team also made history with its first NCAA Championships appearance as a team in 2013.
The men's golf squad earned an NCAA Regional berth for a fourth-straight year in 2014. During Bowen's two-year tenure, the Memphis track and field squads have sent 14 student-athletes to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, with eight earning All-America honors.
In the classroom, Memphis continued its strong performance in Bowen's first two years.
For 2014, all 19 Memphis athletics programs had APRs of 940 or higher, and the Tigers' department-wide, four-year average (2009-10 through 2012-13) was 979. Four programs again earned NCAA Public Recognition for APR - baseball, men's basketball, women's golf and women's tennis.
Of the school's 375 student-athletes, 56 percent earned a grade point average of 3.0 or higher for the 2014 spring semester, including 31 percent that earned a 3.5 or higher GPA and institutional Dean's List honors. Memphis' cumulative student-athlete GPA was 3.06 and the school's freshman student-athlete GPA was 3.04.
Memphis closed out the 2013-14 academic year by having ten student-athletes recognized at the spring honors ceremony.
Memphis athletics also had four programs receive NCAA Public Recognition Awards for their exceptional Academic Progress Rate (APR) during the 2012-13 academic year.
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 time 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.