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HONORING ARCHITECT OF BULLS ATHLETICS

Madge Bowers remembers the joy her husband Dick felt in 1963 at the prospect of helping build a college athletic program from scratch at USF.

"He was so excited about coming to the university, about trying to build something from ground zero to a well-established program," said Bowers, who will be at the Pepin Center on Thursday night when her late husband is part of the inaugural class of the USF Athletics Hall of Fame.

Bowers, who was athletic director from 1966-82, died at age 77 in November 2007, but was able to see 25 years of remarkable progress after he set things in motion. Ask his wife what he was most proud of, and the answer is a tribute in itself.

"I'm sure Dick would be very proud, but he never wanted any honors," she said. "He never liked to talk about himself or mention his accomplishments. He'd say, 'If you do anything worth doing, other people are going to talk about what you've done.' "

Come Thursday night, there will be much to talk about. Bowers shepherded USF into the NCAA, oversaw the construction of the Sun Dome and established most of the teams the Bulls now field. Decades before USF finally got a football team, he was trying to convince university presidents of the value it would bring to the school.

"Obviously, he left a legacy," said basketball great Charlie Bradley, who will also be inducted Thursday. "He got the ball rolling, so he has to be considered the main key for everything that has to do with sports and athletics at USF."

Bowers was an athletic standout himself, having played basketball and baseball at Tennessee and turned down a golf scholarship to LSU. He was good enough to try out for the Chicago Cubs after college, and served two years for the U.S. Army in Korea before starting a career as an educator and college administrator.

After he stepped down as athletic director in 1982, he spent another 21 years as director of development for USF's college of business until he retired in 2003.

"He worked very hard to establish the program," his wife said. "He went to all the basketball games, and football once that started, and he did see the new athletic building when that was opened. I know he was very proud of what the program has become."

Also inducted Thursday as part of the first class will be women's basketball star Wanda Guyton, former rifle All-American Michelle Scarborough and the 1984-85 women's swimming team, which won a Division II national championship.

THIS AND THAT: Men's soccer, 4-0 and ranked in the top 10 in three polls, opens defense of its Big East championship this weekend, with matches against Marquette and Notre Dame. ...USF has chosen three finalists from 15 bids for its campus facility upgrades, which include a basketball practice facility and new baseball and softball stadiums. Among the bidders is a group from Populous (formerly HOK Sport), a leading international sports architecture and design group. Its local projects include Bright House Field in Clearwater and UCF's Convocation Center in Orlando.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

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