Colorado State University Athletic Director Kowalczyk Signs Five-Year Contract Extension

Colorado State University announced today that Athletic Director Paul Kowalczyk has signed a five-year contract extension, which takes effect July 1 and ends June 30, 2015. Kowalczyk will not receive an increase in salary.

“We are very pleased Paul has agreed to lead Colorado State athletics for at least another five years,” said CSU President Tony Frank. “Paul has accomplished a great deal as AD, and he has clearly proven you can win, with class, while focusing foremost on educating student-athletes. He’s a person of character and integrity who represents Ram athletics well on campus, as well as nationally and within the conference. His strong, consistent leadership will continue to benefit athletics and our university as a whole.”

“I want to thank President Tony Frank. I’m honored and humbled by his confidence in me and extremely excited about the direction of Ram athletics,” said Kowalczyk. “I am fortunate to work with an outstanding and professional group of coaches and staff whose hard work provides me this opportunity and to represent this exceptional student body and campus community.”

Kowalczyk was named CSU’s athletic director in April 2006 following a national search. He had previously served for six years as athletic director at Southern Illinois University, taking that university’s athletic programs to previously unrealized levels of success. His goal is to do the same at CSU.

Kowalczyk placed Colorado State’s athletics program on an ambitious path toward national prominence early in his tenure. Now, in his fourth year, he believes the foundation is in place for building lasting CSU success. Among the long-term goals Kowalczyk is driving the athletics department to achieve are:

  • A No. 1 ranking in the Director’s Cup, a ranking system that reflects overall program success;
  • An annual Bowl Championship Series inclusion; and
  • Regular NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament participation.

“I’ve always believed CSU has the potential to consistently be a national player in intercollegiate athletics and, thanks to the support of President Frank, Chancellor Joe Blake, the Board of Governors, great donors and outstanding fans, I am now more convinced than ever,” said Kowalczyk. “It is our intent to achieve at a level not previously seen at CSU and to bring great pride to our students, alums and community. We are truly building something special here at Colorado State.”

Kowalczyk continues to work diligently to improve CSU athletics by:

  • Increasing the competitiveness of athletic programs, in large part by hiring excellent coaches;
  • Improving facilities; and
  • Increasing fan and donor support.

Under Kowalczyk’s leadership, during the summer of 2009, Colorado State opened two state-of-the-art athletics facilities. The projects marked the most extensive facilities campaign for Colorado State athletics in four decades, and include: the innovative 66,267-square-foot Indoor Practice Facility with an indoor football practice field, and basketball and volleyball practice courts; and the new Academic and Training Center that features a state-of-the-art weight room and academic center with four private tutoring rooms, a computer lab with 30 workstations, and offices for academic staff.

Kowalczyk’s hiring of head football coach Steve Fairchild, the only football coach in school history to win seven games and to win a bowl game in his first season, sparked CSU’s rise back toward national prominence in the sport. Kowalczyk’s additional hires of head men’s basketball coach Tim Miles and head women’s basketball coach Kristen Holt, have revitalized both programs, and now both are experiencing success this season.

However, according to Kowalczyk, the most important part of building a first-class program is ensuring academic success for student-athletes. This department focus has resulted in both higher graduation rates and higher GPAs, on average, for student athletes than the larger student body.

“We have high expectations of success, including the academic success of our student-athletes,” said Kowalczyk. “We are proud of the achievements of our student-athletes, in athletic competition and in the classroom, and believe these experiences will prepare them well to be successful in life well beyond their time at CSU.”

Among other accomplishments, in his first four years at CSU, Kowalczyk has:

  • Initiated CSU’s “Ram Town” fan experience for football that includes free play areas for young fans, corporate and private tailgating and live entertainment prior to each home game.
  • Negotiated an 11-year extension, with 10 years guaranteed at Invesco Field at Mile High, of the football series with CU, the longest extension in the series which dates back more than a century.
  • Retained Tom Hilbert, one of the most successful coaches in NCAA history, as head volleyball coach.
  • Instituted an internal reorganization and new level of fiscal responsibility in the athletics department.
  • Initiated ten new scholarship endowments.
  • Added six new Legacy scholarships (a $50,000 commitment over five years).

While the athletics program under Kowalczyk’s guidance has moved forward, he readily admits there are many more challenges and much work ahead, including diligently working to expand the program’s ticket and donor base as a means to generate additional revenue and scholarship fund support.