President Larry Penley today named Paul Kowalczyk, athletics director at Southern Illinois University, as Colorado State University’s new Director of Athletics.
Kowalczyk brings to his new post more than 20 years of experience, the last six as athletic director, and a long record of success in collegiate athletic administration. He will start at Colorado State on May 17.
"I have great confidence that Paul will accomplish at Colorado State University what he accomplished at Southern Illinois – raise money for programs and facilities, generate greater interest in athletics and enhance ticket sales, hire outstanding coaches and operate with integrity and professionalism," Penley said. "Paul’s great ethics and leadership will help us with our goal to engage students at all levels while they are at Colorado State. He is an outstanding addition to Ram athletics and to Colorado State University."
Kowalczyk replaces Mark Driscoll, who resigned in March to return to the banking industry.
"I understand the importance of a good, well-rounded education and will focus on building a successful athletics program on and off the field," Kowalczyk said. "I look forward to enhancing the existing spirit of excellence at Colorado State University and will work diligently to provide the necessary leadership, stability and support."
At SIU, Kowalczyk provides administrative leadership for 18 sports, 350 student-athletes and 75 full-time staff and coaches, and manages an annual budget of $7.5 million. He took over as SIU’s athletics director in summer 2000 and has since led the school’s transformation into a successful, nationally renowned athletics program. Under his direction, athletics at the university have achieved unprecedented success on and off the field.
The 48-year-old Ohio native changed the culture of SIU athletics by emphasizing customer service, teamwork and sound business practices, and he successfully overcame challenges of underperforming revenue sports and deteriorating facilities. Winning teams, major facility improvements, financial stability and new heights of school pride are a few of the results of Kowalczyk’s successful leadership at Southern Illinois.
Some of Kowalczyk’s highlights at SIU include:
– He was responsible for obtaining a $4.4 million gift, the largest single gift in SIU history.
– He developed the Saluki Athletic Scholarship Fund to generate greater annual fundraising revenues for scholarships and to create an equitable donor tracking system. These efforts led to a 288 percent increase of annual fund donations from $131,000 in 2000 to $509,000 in 2005.
– He obtained 12 new scholarship endowments for student athletes.
– He reduced an inherited $800,000 deficit by $565,000 in five fiscal years while concurrently accumulating a $425,000 reserve.
– During his tenure, SIU won an unprecedented 15 conference championships in seven sports.
– Under his leadership and last year alone, five teams received national or conference academic awards.
"Paul Kowalczyk is a man of integrity and tremendous character, and he breeds that character into the programs and the student athletes," said Walter Wendler, chancellor of SIU Carbondale. "Faculty respect the work he has done with students. He understands fundraising, is good with donors and is also a good business manager. Paul will be a great ambassador for Colorado State."
Kowalczyk, a first-generation college student, is particularly committed to academic success among student athletes as well as supporting academic and community service programs. During his tenure at SIU, student athletes have outperformed the general student body in the classroom. Last year, 51 athletes earned academic all-conference honors and four were named Academic All-Americans.
Part of Kowalczyk’s success on the field has been his ability to hire outstanding coaches at the right time. One example is the turnaround of the Salukis men’s basketball program, which won five straight Missouri Valley Conference championships and earned five bids to the NCAA Tournament in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, a feat matched only by 16 other schools. More impressive: This was accomplished under three different coaches, all of which were awarded coach of the year honors and two of whom were hired by Kowalczyk.
Likewise, under Kowalczyk’s leadership, the football team has won three consecutive Gateway Conference championships and spent 10 straight weeks ranked No. 1 in the nation due in large part to Kowalczyk’s first hire, Jerry Kill. Before Kowalczyk brought Kill on board in 2001, the Salukis had never won a Gateway Conference championship. Kill has since won the Eddie Robinson Award honoring the Coach of the Year in I-AA.
Other sports have flourished under Kowalczyk as well. The school’s softball team, for example, won two conference championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament three years in a row. Men’s cross country, women’s indoor track, men’s swimming and women’s swimming have also combined to win multiple conference championships.
Kowalczyk came to SIU from Northwestern University, where he was an integral part of the school’s rise to success in the early 1990s. He began in 1991 as the business manager in charge of finance and personnel, and was promoted four years later to associate athletic director for external affairs. Prior to Northwestern, Kowalczyk spent three years at Kansas State as assistant athletic director for business operations.
He began his career in athletics in 1986, working at his alma mater, Kent State, while earning a master’s degree. He later accepted a position as business manager for athletics at Portland State.
Kowalczyk holds a bachelor’s of business administration in accounting and a master’s in sports administration from Kent State.
A few of the many other SIU accomplishments under Kowalczyk’s leadership include:
– Construction of the $3.4 million Troutt/Wittmann Academic and Training Center, a 12,000 square foot addition to the athletic administration building dedicated to academic advising and support and to weight and strength training.
– Financed and constructed the new $1.7 million, 500-seat state-of-the-art softball stadium.
– Student athlete academic achievement reached new levels with an accumulative 2.9 GPA for all sports – higher than university average.
– Honored 10 Academic All-Americans in the last three academic years.
– Increased total ticket sales by 115 percent from 2000 to 2005.
– Increased the athletic department budget 34 percent from $5.6 million in 2000 to $7.5 million in 2006.