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 seven-plus years as athletics director, he has hired some of the most accomplished head coaches in University of Wyoming history and fundraising efforts during Burman's time as A.D. have been unmatched.
The memorable moments include: the Wyoming Cowgirl Basketball Team capturing the WNIT National Championship in 2007; the Wyoming Football Team's dramatic, double-overtime victory in the 2009 New Mexico Bowl and appearance in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl; Wyoming men's basketball team defeating No. 5 ranked San Diego State in 2014; and the Cowboy wrestling team's 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 includes 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 seven-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:
Resources dedicated toward academic success and student-athlete welfare since 2006 have increased nearly 100 percent, including the adoption of a new program that puts an iPad for academic support in the hands of every scholarship student-athlete.
Under Burman, three additional positions have been added within the Office of Academic Support including the creation of an Eligibility Coordinator for Athletics.
University of Wyoming student-athletes continue to set records in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) with Burman at the helm. At the conclusion of the 2013-2014 academic year, four sport programs (including football and men's basketball) saw all-time high APR scores.
During the 2013-14 academic year, a total of 108 UW student-athletes earned Academic All-Mountain West Conference honors. In addition, 48 student-athletes earned Mountain West Conference Scholar-Athlete honors.
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.
At the conclusion of the 2013-2014 academic year 12 out of UW's 17 athletic teams earned a cumulative team grade-point-average of 3.00 or higher.
Cowboy Joe Club revenue grew from $2.1 million in 2006 to $4.5 million as of the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
Ticket revenue has dramatically grown, including a 63 percent growth in football season ticket revenue since 2007.
In the summer of 2011, season-ticket sales for Wyoming Football surpassed the 10,000 season-ticket mark for the first time in school history.
The overall UW Athletics Department budget has grown from $21 million to over $29 million for the 2014-15 budget year.
Burman has spearheaded over $50 million in facilities projects in five years, including: construction of a new $11 million Indoor Practice Facility; construction of the Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites addition 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; and completion of a new $3 million Indoor Tennis Facility that opened in the spring of 2011.
In 2012-13, Wyoming Athletics began the third phase of its Athletics Facility Master Plan. As a part of that third phase, fundraising and construction began for a $30 million Arena-Auditorium renovation project. The first phase of the AA renovation will be completed in the fall of 2014. Also in 2014, a new $1.2 million golf practice facility was completed, and also included in the third phase is the goal of building a new natatorium for the men's and women's swimming programs. Planning for the natatorium began in the 2013-14 academic year.
The Wildcatter Stadium Club & Suites opened for the start of the 2010 football season, and features 12 luxury suites and 256 club seats.
In the spring of 2010, UW Athletics completed a $38 million athletics facility campaign under Burman's direction as athletics director.
Renovations and expansions to facilities such as War Memorial Stadium and the Arena-Auditorium have focused on: both modernizing areas of the facilities that benefit fans, specifically new and improved concession areas, restrooms and seating; and providing the best in training and competition facilities to benefit UW student-athletes.
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 and had previously served as Wyoming's head coach in the 1997-98 season. 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. In Shyatt's first season back at the helm of Cowboy Basketball, the Pokes posted their first 20-win season (21-12) since the 2002-03 season and earned a postseason bid to the College Basketball Invitational. 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.
Burman hired Mark Branch as Wyoming's new wrestling coach prior to the 2008-09 season. The former two-time national champion at Oklahoma State University, 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 2011-12 season was a very successful one for UW Athletics. The Cowgirl Soccer team earned its first-ever appearance in the Mountain West Tournament Championship match.
The swimming and diving programs had another successful season, with head coach Tom Johnson winning his fourth conference Coach of the Year award in 2012.
Cowgirl Tennis achieved its highest national ranking in the history of the program in 2012, reaching a high ranking of No. 56 out of over 300 women's tennis programs in the nation.
Cowgirl Basketball 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.
He 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 48 years old, born Jan. 4, 1966. He and his wife, Kathy, have two sons, Drew and Nathan.