Student Highlight: Robert Towne MA '21

Robert Towne MA ’21 earned his bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at Sonoma State University and played baseball for the Seawolves giving him first-hand experience as a Division II student-athlete. When COVID 19 hit he was unable to compete in his last year of eligibility, but decided to plan for his future. As a local Bay Area native he knew about the Saint Mary’s Graduate Kinesiology program and thought that joining the program would provide him the best opportunity to meet his professional goal of becoming an athletic director. Upon starting his graduate degree, he looked into using his last year of baseball eligibility. It was then that he was offered the opportunity to be a part of the SMC’s baseball team for the Fall 2020 season. While he did not make the Spring roster, the opportunity gave him the unparalleled experience competing in Division I athletics.

With no longer having any NCAA eligibility, Robert is now on the other side of things working in the Saint Mary’s Athletic Department and actively gaining experience that will help him achieve his goal of becoming an athletic director at an institution that hosts Division I athletics.  He was hired as the Compliance and Student Services Graduate Student Coordinator in Spring 2021 and is starting to learn the rules and processes that helped make him eligible to compete for the Gaels this past Fall and so much more.  His position as the Graduate Student Coordinator is not only being used as his internship for the Graduate Kinesiology curriculum, it is also providing him with the opportunity to learn directly from the Supervision and Legal Aspects of Sport professor and Senior Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance, Piper Brewster. Some of his duties include: assisting with the rules education program for athletic staff, student-athletes, and college community; working with the Compliance staff on the tracking and approval of SMC sports camps/clinics; assisting with the approval and monitoring of countable athletically-related activities; and assisting with the NCAA National Letter of Intent program.

Robert has been able to learn directly from two well-established compliance professionals and has been able to gain practical experience reading and interpreting the NCAA rules manual and using Jumpforward, a program that is used across the country in athletic departments to monitor athletic activity and recruiting.  While his coordinator position is giving him hands-on experience and a glimpse of what working in a Division I athletic department is like, he also credits his course work for helping prepare him to transition into this role.  He specifically credits courses like Administrative of Kinesiology, Introduction to Graduate Study and Research, and Philosophical Foundations of Kinesiology.

His mentor, Piper Brewster, expresses: "Robert has become an asset to the Athletics Compliance office in a short amount of time.  His hard work and interest in the inner workings of a Division I athletics department will serve him well in his future profession as an athletic director.  We greatly appreciate the vibrancy that Robert has brought to our rules education initiatives, specifically with social media."  All in all, Robert sees his future career blossoming because he is able to pursue his master’s degree while at the same time gaining practical experience.