Did "Fan" Letter Have Role in U of M Athletic Director Departure?

May 31, 2019

Former University of Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen.
Credit Photo Courtesy of the Commercial Appeal, Mark Weber

The recent resignation of University of Memphis Athletic Director Tom Bowen might have been a case of a department head stepping down to pursue another job, until a letter emerged suggesting another impetus for Bowen's departure. 

Bowen submitted his resignation letter on April 20, four days after a U of M women's basketball fan wrote President M. David Rudd with observations made during a trip to an out-of-town game. Elizabeth Holloway described Bowen sitting next to a female employee on the airplane and at the games, and described the employee's appearance as "either ill or with a hangover." She went on to detail what she felt were "red flags" with Bowen's behavior. 

"Standing alone [these observations] seem innocuous, perhaps even petty, and may amount to nothing more than unprofessional, lazy or odd behavior," prefaced Holloway, before concluding that "the University of Memphis and the student-athletes deserve better from those responsible for the Athletic Department." 

Commercial Appeal basketball reporter Drew Hill says that there remain questions surrounding whether the letter had a direct connection to the resignation, and what that means for fans and the future athletic director.