Bill Rowe
Bill Rowe
Organization: Southwest Missouri State University
Year: 1988 Inductee

Bill Rowe served as head baseball coach and athletic director at Southwest Missouri State for over 50 years. Rowe, who graduated from Southwest Missouri State in 1961, led the baseball program for 19 years and was the athletic business manager prior to serving as athletic director from 1982-2009.

Bill 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 (.630) overall record. The Bears posted winning seasons each of Rowe's final 15 seasons, and had a winning percentage of .600 percent of better 14 of his last 15 years.

Southwest Missouri State captured MIAA championships in 1969, '70 and '79 and made appearances in the NCAA Div. II tournament in 1969, '70, '77, '78, '79, '80 and '82. 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 had been named Regional Coach of the Year four times. He coached nine All-Americans and 17 of his 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 Southwest Missouri State's 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.

Rowe's tenure at SMS saw him serve on NCAA Div. II tournament selection and All-American and Coach of the Year committees in baseball. He was a member of the Central Regional Advisory Committee for NCAA I-AA football selection, and was 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. He was inducted into the Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1994, the Springfield Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.