When Terry Mohajir left his position as Athletics Director for Arkansas State, there was an appetite to take a different approach to the job. Mahajir, an A-State grad, was a self-charging battery of frenetic energy, willing to talk to anyone or produce a set of push-ups at a moment’s notice. But he had taken the program as far as his heated emotion was likely able to take it. What Arkansas State required now was a closer – a seasoned pilot to land the plane.
Tom Bowen bore traits of that guy. Notoriously reserved in his demeanor, Bowen seemed liked the cool managerial presence Arkansas State Athletics needed. He had experience by way of San Jose State and Memphis. Presumably, he had the Rolodex – the insider’s badge. He may have lacked Mohajir’s ballistic bounce, but he carried with him a sophistication as polished as his shoes.
The fit felt awkward. Bowen’s first order of business was to green-light a new basketball floor, which was needed, sure, but instead of setting up the new floor as a launching pad for creating excitement around the program, Bowen seemed good with just letting the floor speak for itself. In short, the floor didn’t seem part of a bigger plan. It was just a new floor.
Bowen had a reputation for being inaccessible, but that was okay. I don’t need the AD showing up at my birthday parties. Still, a fan base accustomed to face-to-face contact with its athletic director had little patience for closed doors – especially after a 2-10 football season and a basketball season that fell well short of expectations (new floor or not).
Bowen’s fan club was a small circle of diehards, I among them. I wanted him to succeed. I wanted him to emerge from the shadows and blow me away with an executive plan for the program. Instead, he created a confusing points system for season ticket holders and never promoted its merits.
“This morning I met with our coaches and senior administrators to let them know that due to health issues that require my immediate attention, I needed to step away from my role as VC for Intercollegiate Athletics,” Bowen said in a statement. Of course, we wish him well, and we hope his health improves.
In the meantime, Arkansas State has a vacuum of leadership. Dr. Kelly Damphousse announced his intentions to move on a few weeks ago. The university is missing its most visible rudders. However, System President Dr. Chuck Welch sees the opportunity.
“We will move very quickly on this search,” said Dr. Welch, “I am already receiving incredible interest.”
Arkansas State needs a bit of a reset, or as they say in Hollywood, a “reimagining.” The door is open. Let’s get back to who we are. Let’s welcome rank-and-file fans back into the fold. Let’s be transparent with our vision of the future. Let’s welcome a new perspective, but most of all, let’s have a good Spring Game.
PHOTO CREDIT: courtesy of Arkansas State Athletics