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Bowen leaves Bemidji State for UMD job

Matt Bowen (left) was all smiles as he accepted a Minnesota-Duluth athletic shirt from UMD athletic director and head football coach Bob Nielson Friday. Bowen, who coached the Bemidji State men's basketball team the past six years, was named UMD's new coach Friday. Clint Austin | Forum Communications Co.

DULUTH - Bemidji State men's basketball coach Matt Bowen has been named the new men's basketball coach at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Bowen, 40, succeeds Gary Holquist, who stepped down earlier this year after 14 seasons guiding the Bulldogs. Bowen signed a four-year contract with an annual base salary of $78,000.

"This is a great opportunity for me at this point in my career," Bowen said. "I am taking over an established program, one that is rich in tradition and success and my hope is to take it to even greater heights. I'm looking forward to that challenge."

Bowen just completed his sixth season as Bemidji State head coach, leading the Beavers to the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference regular season title and an NCAA Division II tournament berth. The team set a school record with 22 wins, and Bowen was named NSIC Coach of the Year. He is 64-102 overall at Bemidji after inheriting a program that struggled.

"I want to thank Matt Bowen for the job he has done in his time as head coach of the Bemidji State men's basketball program," said BSU Director of Athletics Rick Goeb. "He has certainly left the program in much better condition than when he arrived.

"Opportunities like this present themselves because of hard work and success," Goeb continued. "Over the course of the last six years Matt has worked to build the BSU men's basketball program from the ground up to an NSIC championship team in 2011-12. We are proud of where the program is right now."

"I'm truly grateful to the University and athletic administration for having the confidence to hire me for my first head coaching job," Bowen said. "I've had a tremendous opportunity to build and grow a Division II program and I can honestly say I'm proud of what I'm leaving behind. There is a good, solid group of returning players to continue the progress of the program."

Prior to arriving at BSU Bowen served as an assistant coach at Valparaiso and Alabama-Birmingham. He is a native of River Falls, Wis., and a 1995 graduate of Indiana University, where he served as a student manager under legendary head coach Bob Knight.

He was one of two finalists for the Bulldogs job; Iowa State director of basketball operations Jeff Rutter was the other.

"I will miss the relationships I've made with BSU athletics staff and members of the community," Bowen said. "Bemidji has been a great place for my family and I to live and I appreciate the support we've received. I hope that support will continue for this program and the new coach because it makes a difference."

A national search to fill BSU's vacancy will begin immediately, according to Goeb.

"We are going to move as quickly as possible to fill this position," he said."We are coming off one of the most successful seasons in the 90 years of our basketball program. The success of this program is forefront in our minds and we will keep the ball rolling."