Who better to ask about Bowen and his accomplishments during his tenure at SJSU than Inside Sparta Staff members who have worked with Bowens in the last few years.
TigerAuthority.com Publisher James Bryant joined Inside Sparta Staff Don Hoekwater and Mike Morgan in a very interesting question and answer session. Go "Inside" for their insider take on Memphis' new Athletic Director, who will take over at Memphis June 18.
TigerAuthority Question: In your dealings with Tom Bowen describe to the Memphis fans what type of Athletic Director that the Tigers are getting in Bowen.
Mike: Bowen is the type if AD that will review the situation he is coming into, find out where the biggest need is, and hit that area hard. If it's academics, that's where his focus will be. If it's facilities, then he's all over that. If it's hiring key coaching positions, he'll put all his efforts on that.
Don: Tom's very passionate about his work and has a vision to which he sticks. He did whatever he had to do to achieve his goals, including replacing nearly 80 people on the staff of the athletic department. In some instances he was a secretive about his plans, however, and that didn't go over well with some of the alums and fans. But in the overall scheme of things he did a magnificent job here. Tom scheduled games a few years ago with Alabama, Wisconsin, and USC that brought in million of dollars for the athletic department and allowed it to stay in the black when other CSUs were cutting programs. On that note, the AD was recently give approval to add a women's track team. Track and Field have a rich history at SJSU - Speed City produced some of the top athletes in the world - and many would love to see its return.
TigerAuthority Question: We understand Tom Bowen was very involved in the community at San Jose, give us your thoughts there.
Mike: Bowen is the type of person that takes the effort to meet and get to know his constituency. He is not above socializing with the fans, and he listens to their suggestions.
Don: Tom was not only active in the local area, getting the San Jose State name in front of people, he was also very active in recruiting. He made sure to meet every recruit, or as many as he could, when they visited SJSU. I've been told on a number of occasions by prospects that this act was very impressive to them, as other schools did not provide such attention. This is a tough area for college sports teams. It's a pro-sports region by far, plus all the other things Californians have the opportunity to do, so getting the kind of increase in attention from this community is a huge accomplishment.
TigerAuthority Question. As your athletic director what has been Bowen's major accomplishments there in the last five years.
Mike: While at San Jose State, Tom Bowen's biggest accomplishment was putting the infrastructure in place that allowed the SJSU Football program to climb out of the APR (Academic Progress Report) hole it had dug itself into. Within six years, the SJSU Football program when from barely 60 scholarship players to the NCAA maximum allowance of 85.
Don: I really can't add more onto what Mike said. Saving the football program and getting the APR mess straightened out are huge. The overall GPA of the student-athletes at San Jose State now exceeds that of the general population of the school. For a time there was a very powerful academic entity that was pushing hard to either eliminate football or drop down a level. Tom, along with President Don Kassing, was able to stem that, and that group is no longer a factor in the future of SJSU athletics, particularly football.
TigerAuthority Question: What has Bowen's major focus has been while the AD there, what is his general philosophy in running a athletic department.
Mike: Bowen understood that for San Jose State, football was the main attraction. He gave most of his efforts to that sport, but didn't neglect the others by any stretch. His philosophy was to develop a "Culture of Champions" for all the sports at San Jose State.
Don: Win, period. But SJSU was in such a mess when he came on that there were a lot, a LOT of other things that needed his attention. But the main focus was building the football program back to it's prior stature, knowing the flagship sport would bring the most attention to SJSU.
TigerAuthority Question: Bowen stressed academics in his press conference at Memphis, talk about how he was in that area at your school.
Don: He brought in the people and led the way out of the APR hell SJSU found itself in at the end of the Chuck Bell era. SJSU now has a full compliment of scholarships to award in football for the FIRST TIME IN IT'S ENTIRE HISTORY! That's not only a testament to his focus on academics, but now the athletic department can afford to pay for all 85 scholarships and the support staff that's needed. As I stated above, the student-athletes at SJSU now have a higher overall GPA than the regular school population.
TigerAuthority Question: What type of man is Bowen, how excited should Memphis fans be in Bowen being our athletic director.
Mike: Tom Bowen is very sharp; extremely personable, has a great sense of humor. The fans and alumni at Memphis should be very excited that they have an AD that will work hard, develop a long term plan, and will get to know the Memphis fan base.
Don: Great guy, never seems to tire of talking to the fans and alums. He's a fiery man, but that passion is what drives him to succeed, in my opinion. But with all the stress of what he had to accomplish here he was always nice, joking, and ready to talk to people. He attended a lot of the games with his staff and they canvased the stands talking to people and making sure they were enjoying the SJSU experience. He will certainly have a plan and will build a staff that will work for and with him to achieve his goals. He doesn't take a lot of crap from people.
TigerAuthority Question:. How was Bowen in hiring coaches, how was he in the evaluation process, is he quick to pull the trigger on a struggling coach how is he in that area.
Mike: Like most AD's, his track record in hiring coaches a somewhat hit and miss. For football he made two great hires in Dick Tomey and Mike MacIntyre. He missed badly in hoops with George Nessman (Men's) and Pam DeCosta (Women's), but made up for his gaff with the DeCosta hire this past season when he hired Tim La Kose.
Don: Can't say much more here. The Nessman thing is a puzzle but again, the focus was on getting the football program in order. In the last few years he's finally been able to focus more on the other sports and has made some great hires, mainly in women's hoops and tennis. He said prior to leaving that he was now looking at the volleyball and basketball programs as both have struggled.
TigerAuthority Question: Of course Basketball and Football are major sports for Memphis, how is Bowen in handling the smaller sports at your school.
Don: As I stated above, the focus has been primarily on getting the football team above water, but that doesn't mean he neglects the Olympic sports. On many occasions people have asked about football or basketball, and he's made sure to let them there there are many other sports at SJSU that need support.A little about the publisher Don Hoekwater from San Jose State Scout.com site Inside Sparta. Hoekwater has been publisher for three years after founding and working with the Michigan site on Scout since 1998. I have a B.S. in journalism with a photo emphasis from San Jose State and have been a college sports fan my entire life.