The voice of USF Athletics routinely puts down his radio headset and picks up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.
Louk has been broadcasting games for 29 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways ... This week he looks back at a key athletic department member from the 1980's.
By JIM LOUK
Voice of the USF Bulls
Most Bulls fans can name the recent athletic directors at USF. After all, there have been only three in the last 26 years; Paul Griffin (1986-2001), Lee Roy Selmon (2001-2004), and Doug Woolard, who has been at the helm of the department for the last eight years.
The late Richard Bowers is recognized as the first USF athletic director with a tenure beginning in 1966. His replacement, John Wadas, was here until 1985.
I've been fortunate enough to work for each one of them except Dr. Bowers (and I missed him by just a few months). Although the departmental growth might be the most impressive in the past few years, each man moved USF Athletics forward in his own way. Each was a major contributor in helping the Bulls get to where they are today.
You may notice a gap in the timeline of approximately one year. In part of 1985 and part of 1986, the position was filled on an interim basis by a man you may not know. He is a former student-athlete and coach at USF as well as an administrator, and he was a major player in saving the department.
Yes, saving the department.
His name is Jeff Davis. He was a catcher, and a good one, with USF baseball from 1972-73. By 1974, he was an assistant coach, a job he held until 1982 when he was named an assistant athletic director.
"I had a chance to become one of three assistant athletic directors in 1982," Davis recently recalled. "Barbara Sparks-McGlinchy and Hiram Green were the others." Athletic director John Wadas took over at about that time as well.
The basketball program was taking off. The Sun Dome was new, a high profile-coach (Lee Rose) had been hired, and the Bulls went to postseason for the first time, making the NIT. The future looked bright.
Unfortunately, the projected basketball revenue did not follow. That led to budget trouble, which snowballed into a staggering deficit, especially in 1985 dollars.
"By 1985, because of budget situations we actually were over $400,000 in debt. We had to take a step back. There was talk on campus about maybe even eliminating athletics, if you can believe that," says Davis.
Davis was given the title of acting athletic director, and set about to right the ship.
"We downsized a bit and tempered our future revenue projections," he said. "Everyone chipped in to help in that year, especially John Lott Brown and Dan Walbolt. They provided great guidance. Eventually, we got back on track. And by 1986, we met our financial projections. "
It wasn't easy. Some scholarships were lost. The men's basketball media guide from the 1985-86 tells the story all by itself... it's a series of pages held together by a staple in the upper left hand corner instead of being bound like a normal guide.
But the Bulls did persevere. Bobby Paschal was brought in as basketball coach. Four years later USF basketball was in the NCAA Tournament and you could hear the whispers about USF football in many corners of the campus.
Davis would remain at USF for three more years, returning to his assistant athletic director post and staying until 1989.
Following USF, he would spend 16 years at St. Petersburg College as athletic director and associate provost. His son, now a successful high school football coach, was a graduate assistant with the Bulls football program.
As USF Athletics navigates through conference affiliation news, NCAA changes and the generally volatile landscape of college athletics, it's hard to really visualize the crossroads the program was at 26 years ago. It's not hard to visualize, however, the impact Davis and several other key staff members had on USF Athletics.
"You have to remember the past, and there were some tough times," says Davis. "When you look at the program now, and what Doug Woolard and his staff have done, it is truly remarkable. You get caught up in looking at the facilities now. What a step forward. Right now USF Athletics is at a pinnacle, and so much positive is happening."
The program couldn't have gotten here, however, without some steady hands at the wheel in 1985 and 1986. So if you run in to the old catcher at the USF baseball stadium some day (and trust me he looks like he can still play), give him a pat on the back and thank him for his work in those difficult days of USF Athletics history.
The voice of the Bulls, Jim Louk, offers his perspective of USF Athletics, both past and present.
For 29 years, Jim Louk has been the voice of USF Athletics.
Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the USF men's basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1996-97 season. He then made the transition to football in USF's inaugural 1997 campaign, and still serves as the team's play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2012 football season having broadcast every Bulls football game in history - a span of 177 games.
He has handled USF TV play by play broadcasts on SportsChannel, Fox Sports Florida, and Brighthouse Sports Network. His career includes over 1,500 play by play broadcasts of USF events, including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer and volleyball.
This series of articles for GoUSFBulls.com began in 2010.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. Louk and his wife Barbara reside in Lutz. Their son Ross is a sophomore in college.