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Tonya McGowan joined the UIC athletic staff in 1995. She is currently the Senior Woman Administrator and Associate Athletic Director for the UIC Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, McGowan is responsible for human resource issues, financial aid and housing assistance for UIC student-athletes, and other items related to numerous UIC teams. She also serves on multiple committees for the Horizon League and holds many duties regarding matters related to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
A native of the South Side of Chicago, McGowan's interest in athletics grew during her time as a cheerleader in the seventh and eighth grades at Alfred D. Kohn Elementary School. It was there that she was exposed to the game of basketball, a sport she would move on to play at Corliss High School, where she was team captain during her senior year. McGowan's basketball skills and toughness on the court were developed while playing the game with boys during open-gym sessions at Corliss and during pickup games at her local park.
McGowan intended to follow her sister to Illinois State University after high school, without any thought of playing sports in college. After receiving a partial scholarship offer to play for the women's basketball team at UIC, however, McGowan considered the opportunity. The encouragement of a close cousin and the financial ease that the scholarship would have on Matz's family led her to play for the Flames.
"It was the best decision I ever made," said McGowan, "because it led to so many opportunities."
During McGowan's four-year playing career she scored 745 points while shooting 47.9% from the field, a mark that is sixth-best in UIC history. She led her team in scoring in her final season with 12.5 points per game while shooting an outstanding 52.8% field-goal percentage, the fourth-best mark on the school's all-time list. McGowan's outstanding playing career was honored when she was inducted into the UIC Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995.
After graduating with a degree in criminal justice, McGowan stayed at UIC by joining the school's Office of International Criminal Justice, where she worked for 12 years and traveled all over the world. Although her college playing days were finished, McGowan continued to contribute to athletics. She served as a volunteer graduate assistant for the Flames for a year, took part in numerous athletic department committees, and participated in summer and winter basketball leagues; she was even part of a team that won the Chicago Bulls' inaugural 3-on-3 tournament.
In 1995 McGowan's hard work on behalf of athletics was recognized when she was offered a position on the UIC Athletics staff, where she has been helping student-athletes on all 18 teams at UIC ever since. Her responsibilities include overseeing various sport programs, Human Resources, Athletic Scholarships, Compliance, Academic Support, Facility Operations and other duties as assigned.
McGowan has served on various committees at UIC, the NCAA and the Horizon League.
McGowan resides in Olympia Fields, Ill., with her son, Matthew.