After nearly six years as Portland State’s athletic director, Tom Burman is moving on to a job at his alma mater, the University of Wyoming. Burman has been named vice president of the UW Foundation and will assume his new position in two weeks. He will be responsible for fundraising and development.
Portland State veteran Teri Mariani will take over as interim athletic director until a new director is hired. With PSU for over 30 years, Mariani played softball at Portland State before taking over as coach directly after graduating. She was the head coach of the softball program until retiring from coaching last year, though she remained with the athletic department.
Burman came to Portland State in September 2000, four years into the university’s transition from NCAA Division II to Division I and the Big Sky Conference. During Burman’s tenure as athletic director, Portland State passed its NCAA Certification as certified with no conditions in 2002, signifying the final transition to NCAA Division I.
“I came here with the goal of being here five years and the goal of giving our program a better and winning reputation,” Burman said, adding that he hopes to be remembered for changing the culture around PSU athletics.
Burman leaves PSU after its best year as a Big Sky school. In 2005 the Vikings won Big Sky championships in golf, soccer and men’s basketball. Both the soccer and men’s basketball teams hosted the Big Sky tournament in 2005. Despite his success at Portland State directing its 14 varsity programs, the allure of a return to Wyoming had a significant allure.
“It’s the right thing to do. It’s the right fit on multiple levels,” said Burman, whose family resides within 60 miles of the UW campus. “I love development and university advancement. It’s an opportunity to do things more globally and will allow me to expand my career and support my alma mater.”
Burman has already had an impact at the University of Wyoming. Immediately before his tenure at Portland State, Burman served as the associate athletics director, external, at the University of Wyoming and helped raise the program’s profile and financial support.
Burman’s impact at PSU is similar. Burman helped secure the funding that has given the Peter W. Stott Center over $1.3 million in renovations in the last five years and has had a hand in generating more private funding for athletic programs. He also fostered good will between PSU’s top administrators and athletics.
“Tom Burman helped guide Viking athletics during the transition to full membership in the Big Sky Conference,” said Portland State President Daniel Bernstine. “He also never lost sight of the need to emphasize the importance of academic achievement and good citizenship in the overall experience of our student athletes.”
Burman said it was a hard decision to leave PSU, one that was set in motion a week ago when the offer at UW became available.
“It’s really hard to leave,” Burman said. “But I have a chance to make a greater impact at UW.”
As Portland State must now decide who will replace him, Burman is confident that the university will have plenty of qualified candidates eager for the job.
“It’s a good job. At Portland State the athletic director has to wear a lot of different hats. You can’t just be an administrator or a fundraiser,” he said. “PSU also needs to find an athletic director similar in personality to the coaches.”
It is the coaches that Burman is closest to, coaches the Vikings faithful call “Burman hires.” Three of the coaches Burman hired have won coach of the year awards, including current University of Oregon women’s soccer head coach Tara Erickson and Heath Schroyer, who led the men’s basketball team to a 19-9 record last year and the Big Sky regular season title.
“I have a special relationship with the coaches here,” Burman said. “Especially the coaches I hired.”