Baseball Coach, 1964-82; Athletics Director, 1982-Present
Inducted February 19, 1994
Bill Rowe’s service to the SMS Bears as a coach and administrator has gone beyond the 30-year mark, as the man who ushered SMS athletics into its Division I era is now in his 12th year as director of athletics. Rowe graduated from SMS in 1961 and the Marionville, MO product has been a part of the coaching and administrative scene ever since, with 19 years as baseball coach and athletic business manager prior to his assumption of the athletic directorship in 1982. Rowe established Bears’ baseball in 1964 and was the only coach the diamond program had for the next 19 seasons. In his SMS baseball coaching tenure, Rowe guided his teams to a 394-230-1 overall record. The Bears posted winning seasons each of Rowe’s final 15 seasons, and had a winning percentage of 60 percent of better 14 of his last 15 years. SMS captured MIAA championships in 1969, 1970 and 1979 and made appearances in the NCAA Division II tournament in 1969, 1970, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1982. The Bears finished as the national Division II runner-up in 1969 and captured third place in 1970. At the time he stepped aside from his coaching duties after the 1982 season, Rowe was the winningest coach in MIAA conference history and was regional Coach of the Year four times. He coached nine All-Americans and 17 of his Bears’ players signed professional contracts, with catcher Mark Bailey and pitcher Scott Bailes the first two SMS baseballers to reach the major leagues. Rowe’s service as business manager saw him oversee SMS hosting of NCAA Division II competition at both the regional and national levels in cross country, baseball, basketball and golf. SMS hosted the first four Division II baseball tournaments from 1968 to 1971, the first three Division II golf tournaments from 1963 to 1965, the Division II basketball tournament in 1978 and 1979, and the Division II golf tournaments in 1974 and 1976. Rowe moved to the athletic directorship in 1982 as SMS upgraded its program to the Division I level. The move coincided with SMS becoming a charter member of the Mid-Continent Conference and dominated that league almost from the beginning. SMS won Mid-Continent all-sports championships five times in eight years, earning Rowe selection as the league’s Executive of the Year each time. The Bears wound up with 30 sport championships, more than twice as many as any other league school. While SMS was dominating the Mid-Continent, Rowe was behind the scenes involved in the planning for the SMS move into the Missouri Valley Conference in 1990. He was given overall administrative responsibility for a program that would include SMS women’s athletics, and a dozen years of SMS Division I membership was unprecedented cross-the-board success for SMS teams. In addition to their conference championships, SMS teams have qualified for NCAA championships five times in men’s basketball, twice in football, once in baseball, twice in volleyball, three times in women’s basketball and once in men’s golf. Along with that, there have been notable individual NCAA accomplishments in wrestling, men’s and women’s track, and men’s tennis. Along with competitive achievement, SMS has continued to be respected for its continuing administrative excellence, and has been chosen to host NCAA Division I competition in cross country, wrestling, football, women’s basketball and volleyball. Rowe’s tenure at SMS has seen him serve on NCAA Division II tournament selection and All-American and Coach of the Year committees in baseball. He is a member of the Central Regional Advisory Committee for NCAA I-AA football selection, and is currently in his first year as chairman of the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee. Rowe, who also served as the football assistant at SMS from 1963 to 1966, was given an SMSU Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1988 and was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame the same year.