CLEVELAND, Ohio – The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) announced the 28 winners of the Under Armour AD of the Year Award (ADOY) today. The award spans seven divisions (NCAA FBS, FCS, Division I-AAA, II, III, NAIA/Other Four-Year Institutions and Junior College/Community Colleges). Ventura College Athletic Director Will Cowen was named as one of the recipients of this prestigious national award.
The ADOY Award highlights the efforts of athletics directors at all levels for their commitment and positive contributions to student-athletes, campuses and their surrounding communities.
"This is the 20th year for the Athletics Director of the Year Program, and each year that goes by, we are continually blown away by the standard of success that these award winners maintain across all levels of college athletics," said Bob Vecchione, NACDA Executive Director. "Over the last two decades, we have been fortunate to recognize more than 425 individuals for the impressive work they do and the examples they set for everyone in our industry."
Cowen first arrived at Ventura College assisting the football and men's basketball teams from 2005 to 2008. In January of 2009, Ventura College president Dr. Robin Calote announced Will Cowen as the new Director of Intercollegiate Athletics for the Pirates. Later that spring he added the title of Head Men's Basketball Coach, directing the Pirates for two years on the hardwoods. During his tenure with the men's team, VC finished with the best record in the Western State Conference two of three years. Most notably, in 2011 James Ennis graduated from Ventura College, transferred to Long Beach State and is currently playing for the NBA's Detroit Pistons.
Prior to his arrival at Ventura College, Cowen worked at Pacifica High School in Oxnard, CA from its inception in 2001-2008 and from 1995-2001 at Ventura High School. He served in various capacities as: teacher, coach, athletic director and alternative education instructor focusing on at-risk students.
Cowen remains active in the basketball community emphasizing player development. Since 2004, he has worked as a clinician alongside basketball legends, including Pete Newell Sr., Ann Meyers Drysdale and Bill McClintock, teaching footwork and inside out technique to players from age 14 to the professional level. He has served as a consultant to many college coaching staffs across the country. Cowen takes great pride in sharing ideas, developing great teachers and helping all coaches better prepare, communicate and understand their players.
Will Cowen is active in the participatory governance process on campus, serving on five committees.
On 18 occasions Ventura College has received recognition as a state scholar team by the CCCAA Awards Committee, and has had 34 teams recognized since the inception of the awards in 1996 (best in the state). In 2016-2017 the average GPA of a Ventura College student-athlete rose to 3.12; with 14/19 teams above the 3.0 mark. Since 2009, 71% of the sophomore student athletes at Ventura College have transferred and over 9.1 million dollars in annual scholarships have been earned. In 2017, 130 Pirate student-athletes transferred to four-year universities.
Cowen helped secure categorical funding to open VC Pirates Cove which is a student success center serving over 800 at-risk students. Since the inception of the Cove, course success rates have increased across the board closing the equity gaps each semester.
Will Cowen's return to his hometown has seen a resurgence of Pirate Athletics in all sports. Since 2008, on five occasions VC Athletics finished the year ranked in the top ten for community colleges in the NATYCCA Cup standings. During Cowen's tenure the College has amassed five state championships and 67 conference championships.
Cowen worked to renovate all athletic facilities hosting: 2016/2018 CCCAA Soccer Championships and 2018/2019 CCCAA Basketball Championships. Ventura College is also the permanent host of the CCCAA Tennis Championships, hosted by the Ojai in conjunction with the PAC 12 Conference where he serves as event director.
Will Cowen was elected by his peers to the executive board of the CCCADA (the professional organization representing athletic administrators in California) and has served three consecutive terms as president. Cowen has most recently been appointed to NATYCAA Executive Board and CCCAA Management Council.
Cowen serves on the Ventura Sports Committee under the Charter of the Ventura Visitors and Convention Bureau. The committee allows the college to work closely with the VCLA, DVP, Ventura County Fairgrounds, Parks and Recreation on all community events related to athletics.
Cowen earned his BA from UC Santa Barbara in 2000 and his MA from Azusa Pacific University in 2002.
Winners will receive their awards during the James J. Corbett Awards Luncheon on Friday, June 29 at NACDA's 53rd Annual Convention at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
2017-18 NACDA Under Armour AD of the Year Awards