Rejoice, Tulane fans; Cowen will retire in 2014

daniels    Tulane athletics needed some good news, and recently it got some.
    Scott Cowen is retiring as university president on July 1, 2014.
    Since Cowen advised the Tulane staff by email of his imminent departure, his tenure has received glowing reviews. As an academician, a fundraiser and a leader post-Katrina, I would understand those reviews.
    But there is only one conclusion you can draw about Cowen’s tenure from the perspective of athletics: It has been an unmitigated disaster.
    Tulane’s last winning season in football was in 2002. Since the Wave won the league title in 1998, eight different schools have won at least one Conference USA football championship. Tulane has been a non-factor.
    At the end of an 11-0 regular season, football coach Tommy Bowden departed for Clemson. Bowden’s top assistant, Rich Rodriguez, should have been hired by affirmation. Director of athletics Sandy Barbour was ready to do so. But Cowen decided on Chris Scelfo.
    I have heard many stories about why this occurred. But here’s my take: Cowen didn’t want Rodriguez and his Type A personality. The campus wasn’t big enough for the two of them.
    Scelfo actually recruited well. By 2002, Tulane won seven games and the Hawaii Bowl.
    But in 2003, Cowen began the school’s disastrous “review” as to whether the school would remain in Division I athletics. Behind the scenes, director of athletics Rick Dickson worked tirelessly to keep the school D-I.
    But the damage to Tulane’s athletic department is still being felt 10 years later.
    Cowen arrived on campus in 1998. In his tenure, Tulane basketball has yet to reach an NCAA Tournament. And with the sudden departures of point guard Ricky Tarrant and first-team all-league forward Josh Davis, that streak likely will stay intact.
    Baseball is the only area where Tulane has had success. Rick Jones led the Green Wave to the College World Series in 2001 and 2005. But the Wave has gone five straight seasons without an NCAA Tournament appearance.
    Currently, Tulane is on an athletics facilities’ building binge. Devlin Fieldhouse (the old Fogelman arena) is in stage two of refurbishment. A new basketball and volleyball practice facility has opened. And the new Yulman football stadium is currently under construction. Best guess is it will seat 25,000.
    I have never understood how the basketball arena was somehow good for the program, yet playing downtown at one of the most recognizable arenas in the world was somehow bad for the football program.
    Now Tulane fans are supposedly willing to catch a shuttle to football games, starting in 2014.
    These games will kick off at noon or 1 p.m., as yet another concession to a hostile neighborhood.
    However, stadiums don’t win games, players do.
    In September of 2000, SMU opened Gerald Ford Stadium. In 2003, the Ponies were 0-12. In 2007 and 2008, SMU posted back-to-back 1-11 seasons.
    I recently met with some prominent local businessmen. They told me Tulane athletics is a “non-factor.” That made me sad and angry. And there’s one person to blame for that. He departs July 1, 2014.
    Ed Daniels is sports director of ABC26 WGNO. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
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