SJSU's A.D. list includes 49ers Executive

Tom Bowen, a 49ers executive, has joined Stanford administrator Mike Izzi as a front-runner to become San Jose State's athletic director, according to sources close to the situation.

Tom Bowen, a 49ers executive, has joined Stanford administrator Mike Izzi as a front-runner to become San Jose State's athletic director, according to sources close to the situation.

Bowen is director of the 49ers Foundation and runs the team's community outreach program. He is a former associate athletic director at Cal and St. Mary's. Izzi is an associate athletic director at Stanford in charge of fundraising.

Interviews are taking place this week, sources said, and the university could name its new A.D. as early as Monday.

From there, San Jose State is expected to move quickly in its search for a football coach. Sources said that Texas assistant head coach Dick Tomey, former San Jose State coach Terry Shea, Stanford assistant Ken Margerum and University of San Diego coach Jim Harbaugh have been mentioned as potential candidates.

A source close to former Washington coach Rick Neuheisel said he has not been contacted by SJSU and is not a candidate.

Izzi and Bowen have two things in common. Both are experienced fundraisers, and both have connections to Bill Walsh, who is directing SJSU's eight-person search committee. Izzi works in the same suite as Walsh at Stanford, while Bowen knows Walsh through the latter's days as a consultant with the 49ers, a source said.

Neither Izzi nor Bowen could be reached for comment. A third candidate, Daryl Gross, associate athletic director at USC, is expected to be named athletic director at Syracuse today.

Former 49ers star Ronnie Lott ``has been hanging around'' San Jose State, a source said, but it is not known if Lott is a candidate for either the coaching or the A.D. job.

Walsh's participation in the athletic director's search represents a new role for him -- one that has created a buzz within the SJSU athletic department and the Spartans community.

``We're doing some real exciting things over there,'' Walsh said Monday.

Walsh, 73, is the only SJSU alumnus in the NFL Hall of Fame. But over the years he has aligned himself more closely with Stanford, where he spent two tours as football coach and is currently a special assistant to the athletic director.

While working as a television commentator for the SJSU-Stanford game in September, Walsh was extremely critical of the Spartans' failure to get several players academically certified. In fact, sources said that Walsh later spoke to interim SJSU president Don Kassing and expressed dismay at the state of the football program.

When asked in September if he had spoken to Walsh, Kassing said: ``I've heard that rumor, too. No comment.''

Sources said that Kassing, who is committed to saving the floundering program, asked Walsh for help.

Walsh agreed, and sources said that their plan called for the removal of Coach Fitz Hill and A.D. Chuck Bell.

When Bell announced his retirement in November -- eight months before his contract expired -- he explained that ``the time was right.''

In reality, sources said, he was asked to step down so Kassing and Walsh could begin their reclamation project.

``Bell was told to leave,'' a source said.

Hill resigned three weeks later, at Kassing's request.

``This president cleared the field for Walsh to do what he wanted to do,'' a source said. ``Everyone is very excited about it.''


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