Drury Associate Athletics Director & Senior Woman Administrator Retires

by Drury Athletics

After nearly 40 years of service to Drury University, Associate Athletics Director & Senior Woman Administrator Barbara Cowherd announced she will retire effective May 31, 2019.

Cowherd completed her 38th year with the university in 2018-19 and her 20th season in her current role in the Drury athletics office. She started her career at Drury as the head volleyball coach in 1980 and guided the program until 1999 compiling a record of 487-354-17. Cowherd was named the NAIA District 16 Coach of the Year in 1988 following their 43-11 season and led the volleyball program from the AIAW to the NAIA in 1981, and then to the NCAA-II level in 1994. She is the all-time leader at Drury in career volleyball wins.

In 1999, Cowherd became the Assistant Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator, then was elevated to Associate Athletics Director in 2003. She was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2016 for her accomplishments at Drury as both a coach as well as for her years of service to the sports community in southwest Missouri.

“On behalf of the Drury University Athletics staff, we want to thank Barb for her outstanding contributions over the past 38 years,” said Mark Fisher, Drury University Vice President & Director of Athletics. “She has been a wonderful advocate for our student-athletes and coaches during her Hall of Fame career, and has truly left her mark on Drury Athletics! We all want to wish her the very best in her retirement.”  

As Drury’s Senior Woman Administrator, Cowherd was instrumental in the start of the Lady Panthers basketball program that launched in the 2000-2001 season and has seen it sustain national prominence since its inception. Drury athletics has grown women’s sports from just two teams when Cowherd started in 1980 to 11 NCAA-II programs, with four additional non-NCAA sports that provide opportunities for female student-athletes. 

Since Cowherd has been the Senior Woman Administrator, Drury’s women’s teams have won 23 conference championships and appeared in 64 NCAA-II tournaments. Panther women’s squads also finished eighth-place or better in national competition 28 times during her tenure.

Cowherd aided in the design and the department’s move into the $13.5 million O’Reilly Family Event Center in 2010. She managed the transition for season ticket holders and seat selection process in addition to handling internal operations, budgetary oversight and event management for a variety of Drury sports including basketball.

She has served on regional and national ranking committees within the NAIA and NCAA-II and has served as a tournament director for a variety of championships during the last 20 years.

A graduate of East Newton High School, Cowherd was a multi-sport athlete at Missouri Southern State playing volleyball, basketball, softball and track & field. She was a four-year letter winner and co-captain in volleyball. Cowherd was a two-time All-Central States Intercollegiate Conference (CSIC) selection in basketball and a national qualifier in the javelin as a senior in 1979. She also was named MSSU’s Outstanding Female Student-Athlete as a junior and was her team’s outstanding senior volleyball player in the same year. In 1993, Cowherd was inducted into the Missouri Southern State Athletics Hall of Fame.

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