Interview with Wyoming Director of Athletics Tom Burman, 6-6-11
From the time Tom Burman was named Athletics Director at the University of Wyoming on Oct. 9, 2006, to today, Wyoming Athletics has enjoyed some of its most memorable moments in school history. Also during Burman's past eight-plus years as athletics director, he has hired some of the most accomplished head coaches in University of Wyoming history, fundraising efforts have been unmatched and the academic success of UW student-athletes has been exceptional.
The memorable moments include Wyoming Cowboy Basketball winning the 2015 Mountain West Basketball Tournament Championship and earning an automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. Wyoming Football secured a dramatic, double-overtime victory in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl and followed that up with an appearance in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl. The Cowgirl Basketball team captured the WNIT National Championship in 2007, and earned the school's first appearance in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament in 2008. The Cowboy wrestling program has also enjoyed success in multiple NCAA Tournaments during Burman's tenure.
Among the nationally-successful head coaches that Burman has hired is his most recent hire of head football coach Craig Bohl in December of 2013. Bohl led North Dakota State to three consecutive FCS national championships in 2011, `12 and `13, was named National Coach of the Year in 2012 and `13 and was part of two FBS national championships as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Nebraska, in 1995 and `97.
The other nationally-successful coaches that Burman has hired include head men's basketball coach Larry Shyatt, who was part of two national championships in 2006 and `07 as associate head coach at Florida. Burman hired head wrestling coach Mark Branch, who was part of four NCAA Championships as associate head coach at his alma mater, Oklahoma State, and won two individual NCAA titles as a competitor at OSU in 1994 and `97. Current track and field coach Bryan Berryhill is a fourth UW head coach who has achieved a national title and was hired by Burman. Berryhill captured individual NCAA national championships in the indoor 1-mile run and outdoor 1,500-meter run in 2001 at Colorado State.
Fundraising and season-ticket sales have reached record levels in Burman's eight-plus years directing the UW Athletics department. Numerous facility projects have also been completed under Burman's direction.
Academically, Cowboy and Cowgirl student-athletes are achieving at exceptional levels.
"I care deeply about this University, the success of UW Athletics and the well-being of our student-athletes," Burman said upon his hiring. "We will build a program that wins championships, is a source of great pride to our alumni and generates enthusiasm across the state. The future starts now."
Specific accomplishments that have been achieved during Burman's tenure as Director of Athletics at the University of Wyoming include:
•Under Burman's leadership, the University of Wyoming has increased resources in the areas of academic success and student-athlete well-being by over 100 percent.
•Increased funding of academic support for student-athletes has resulted in unprecedented success -- most recently demonstrated by Wyoming's 2013-14 Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores released by the NCAA in May of 2015. Those most recent APR scores resulted in eight of UW's 17 sports teams securing all-time high scores, with two programs, women's tennis and men's golf, achieving perfect scores of 1,000, earning them national recognition by the NCAA.
•The 2014-15 academic year also saw several academic highlights, including 233 student-athletes across 63 different academic majors achieving a 3.00 or better spring semester grade point average. Of those 233 student-athletes, 131 achieved a 3.50 or above spring semester gpa and 43 earned perfect 4.00 gpas for the spring semester.
•Burman's commitment to student-athlete well-being is evident in the addition of several key staff devoted to improving the overall athletic and academic experience for student-athletes. These new staff members include: a full-time athletics department team physician, a sports nutritionist, and additional sports medicine, sports performance and academic support staff members.
•At the conclusion of the 2012-2013 season, the University of Wyoming swept the Mountain West Conference Male and Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year awards as Luke Ruff of Cowboy Football and Chaundra Sewell of Cowgirl Basketball were named the recipients. It marked only the second time in the history of the Mountain West Conference that both Female and Male Scholar-Athlete Awards went to individuals from the same university.
•Wyoming Athletics set a new annual fundraising record of $12.8 million in pledges and gifts to UW Athletics for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
•Cowboy Joe Club revenue grew from $2.1 million in 2006 to over $5 million as of the end of the 2015 fiscal year.
•In 2011, season-ticket sales for Wyoming Football surpassed the 10,000 season-ticket mark for the first time in school history.
•Burman has spearheaded over $100 million in facilities projects during his time as athletics director, including: construction of a new $11 million Indoor Practice Facility (Fall 2007); construction of the $22 million Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites addition (Fall 2010) to War Memorial Stadium; extensive renovations to the east side of War Memorial Stadium; significant upgrades to the UniWyo Sports Complex for volleyball and wrestling; completion of a new $3 million Indoor Tennis Facility (Spring 2011); a new $1.2 million golf practice facility (Summer 2014); and Phase I of a $30 million two-phase renovation to the Arena-Auditorium (Fall 2014). Phase II of the AA renovation is planned to begin after the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.
•Construction of a new High-Altitude Performance Center is on the horizon to benefit all UW student-athletes. The proposed $44 million facility would be funded by $24 million in private donations and $20 million in matching funds from the state of Wyoming that was allocated with the support from the Wyoming State Legislature and Governor Matt Mead.
•In the spring of 2011, Burman lured Larry Shyatt away from his position as associate head coach at the University of Florida to return to Laramie and take over as head coach of Cowboy Basketball. Shyatt had been part of two National Championships with the Gators. Burman's hiring of Shyatt received numerous positive reviews, including an "A" rating from ESPN.com. Of the 19 coaching hires that ESPN.com rated, Wyoming received one of only five "A" ratings. The Cowboys reached the Top 25 of the USA Today Coaches' Poll during the 2012-13 season and defeated No. 5 ranked San Diego State in the 2013-14 season before capturing the 2015 Mountain West Basketball Tournament Championship and earning an automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.
•Wyoming football has made two bowl appearances during Burman's tenure as athletics director. The Cowboys won the 2009 New Mexico Bowl and earned a second appearance in the 2011 Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
•Burman hired Mark Branch as Wyoming's new wrestling coach prior to the 2008-09 season. Branch led Cowboy Wrestling to a 19th-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Championships. That was the best finish for the Cowboys since 1996. He has been named the Western Wrestling Conference Coach of the Year three times at Wyoming.
•The 2014 women's soccer season saw the Cowgirls advance to the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship game, while head coach Pete Cuadrado was named 2014 Mountain West Coach of the Year.
•The women's tennis team advanced to the 2015 Mountain West Conference championship match, and head coach Dean Clower earned MW Coach of the Year honors.
•Cowgirl Basketball has achieved unprecedented success under the direction of head coach Joe Legerski. Wyoming won the Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) National Championship in the 2006-07 season, defeating Wisconsin, 72-56, in the championship game in Laramie. In 2007-08, the Cowgirls earned the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament berth. In both the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, Wyoming again received bids to the WNIT where it advanced to the third round both seasons. The 2012-13 Cowgirl squad also earned a bid to the WNIT's first round.
•Burman scheduled the most-anticipated event in the history of War Memorial Stadium when the No. 9 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers came to Laramie on Sept. 24, 2011, for the first time. It marked only the second time that a Big Ten football team had appeared in Laramie.
•Burman also negotiated the 2009 appearance of the No. 2 ranked Texas Longhorns in War Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns made their first-ever appearance in Wyoming and went on to play for the 2009 National Championship, finishing as the national runner-up.
•In addition to Texas (2009) and Nebraska (2011), Burman has also negotiated future football contracts to bring the following teams to War Memorial Stadium: Oregon (2017), Washington State (2018), Missouri (2019) and Texas Tech (2022).
Before becoming A.D. at Wyoming, Burman had previously served as an Associate Athletics Director at UW from 1995-2000. His first position at his alma mater was as Associate Athletics Director for Development, serving as Executive Director of the Cowboy Joe Club from 1995-97. From 1997-2000, Burman was Wyoming's Associate Athletics Director for External Affairs. During that time period, he was instrumental in raising funds for the $9.4 million Rochelle Athletics Center. He served as Athletics Director at Portland State University from September 2000 through March 2006. Burman returned to UW in March 2006 as Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement with the UW Foundation, before being tabbed by President Tom Buchanan as the eighth athletics director in UW history.
Burman began his intercollegiate athletics career as Director of Marketing and Promotions (1993-95) at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. Before entering a career in college athletics, Burman worked as a project manager for the sports management company DeWilber & Associates in McLean, Va., from 1990-92.
Burman earned a bachelor of science degree from Wyoming in 1988 and an M.B.A. from Robert Morris University in Coraopolis, Pa., in 1991.
Burman is 49 years old, born Jan. 4, 1966. He and his wife, Kathy, have two sons, Drew and Nathan.