In an unexpected move, Greg Byrne has decided to leave his position as the University of Arizona athletic director to take the same position at the University of Alabama, it was reported Sunday.
Now, UA will have to find his replacement, and one popular name is South Florida’s athletic director, Mark Harlan, who is a UA alum.
But two other AAC candidates’ names have been “floated” for the job as well, according to USA Today’s Dan Wolken.
They are Memphis’ Tom Bowen and Houston’s Hunter Yurachek.
Here is some info about both:
Bowen, 55, has been Memphis’ athletic director for five years and he has fundraised “a record amount” for Memphis’ athletics department, according to the school’s website.
Bowen was key to the formation of the American Athletic Conference, which Memphis moved to from Conference USA in 2013.
Additionally, Bowen launched the “Time to Shine” campaign, in which the Tigers raised $40 million less than 120 days after it started. The campaign’s goal was to raise funding for a new men’s basketball practice facility and an indoor football facility, which are currently under construction.
Bowen also led the fundraising efforts to help other programs at the school, including softball and track and field. He secured the largest gift for women’s athletics in school history in November 2012.
Under Bowen, the Memphis football team won its first bowl game since 2005 and won the AAC in 2014. Consequently, in Bowen’s tenure the school has had more than a 100 percent increase in its attendance.
In 2015, Bowen got a two-year extension which put him under contract at Memphis through June 2019.
According to the College System of Tennessee, Bowen’s salary is $424,473. For reference, Byrne’s salary at Arizona was $600,000.
Before landing in Memphis at 2012, Bowen was the athletic director at San Jose State. The Bay Area native graduated from Notre Dame in 1983.
For more info on Bowen, click here.
Yurachek has been Houston’s athletic director since early 2015, though he has worked in UH’s athletic department since 2014.
Under Yurachek, Houston has experienced a “renaissance” of its football program, according to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle.
“Since replacing Mack Rhoades, Yurachek has been at the helm of a renaissance of the football program, with the Cougars going 13-1 and winning the American Athletic Conference title in 2015,” Duarte wrote. “The success led to the Cougars being a box office hit with more than 21,000 paid season-ticket packages sold before last season. UH posted the second-highest average attendance among Group of Five schools this season with 38,953 at 40,000-seat TDECU Stadium, a 15 percent increase from the previous year.”
Additionally, Yurachek assisted with securing a naming rights agreement for TDECU Stadium, which has a per year value that ranks in the top-10 in college sports, according to UH’s website.
Yurachek has helped Houston be “well-positioned” to join the Big 12, though it did not get a bid this past fall.
Yurachek oversaw fundraising for construction of new athletic facilities, including the $60 million Fertitta Center — a basketball arena that is set to open in time for the 2017-18 season. UH recently broke ground on a $20 million indoor football facility, too.
Yurachek’s first major hire was promoting Major Applewhite to be the school’s football coach after Tom Herman — who Yurachek was “instrumental” in the national search for, according to the school’s website — bolted for Texas.
Before joining UH, Yurachek was the athletic director at Coastal Carolina, and in 2014 he was the Under Armour FCS Athletic Director of the Year.
Under Yurachek, Coastal Carolina operated with a balanced budget because of his “zero-budget initiative” along with “unprecedented revenues,” per Houston’s website.
Yurachek signed a five-year extension with Houston in September 2016 that runs through 2021 and raises his base salary from $350,000 to $450,000.
Yurachek is from Richmond, Virginia and graduated from Guilford College (in Greensboro, North Carolina) in 1990.
For more info on Yurachek, click here.
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