By Matt Wellman
Throughout SNU’s storied athletic history, there have been many athletes who have worn the crimson and white. A few have had successful careers in athletics but most have “gone pro in something else” as the NCAA commercials would say.
If you have listened to any Oklahoma Sooner sporting events over the past few years, you have like heard of Toby Rowland, the radio play-by-play voice of OU Athletics and an Emmy award-winning sports reporter. What you might not have known about Rowland, however, is that he was a basketball player at SNU from 1991 to 1995.
I had the chance to converse with Rowland about how SNU helped him get to where he is now.
“Everybody in the journalism department was great. They taught me the writing skills and got me the internships that I needed to get where I am today,” Rowland said.
He also credits Larry Mills as the person who influenced him the most.
“He [Mills] was the play-by-play guy when I was there, and he stepped aside and allowed me to take over, which I thought was a first class move,” Rowland said. “So when you flip on the radio and come across a Sooner football game this fall, remember that’s a SNU alum you’re hearing.”
A couple of other notable basketball alumni are Todd Thurman and Astou Ndiaye-Diatta.
In the early 1980s, Thurman spent his days breaking records and winning SNU’s first basketball national championship, but now he spends his days as Southwestern Oklahoma State University’s athletic director. He also spent nine years across the late 1980s and early 1990s as an assistant head coach for the Crimson Storm basketball team.
Thurman credits Loren Gresham and Larry Mills as the people who influenced him the most. He also says that SNU “showed me patience and how much they cared me and all the students not only as citizens, but also as Christians.” He attended SNU from 1979 to 1983.
Ndiaye-Diatta only lost four basketball games in her entire career at SNU. She was twice named NAIA All-American and won four national championships. She was drafted 22nd overall in 1999 by the Detroit Shock and would end up playing for seven years in the WNBA, winning a championship with the Shock. She also has played for Senegal’s national team. She is now an assistant coach for the women’s basketball team at Utah State University.
This story is a first in a series of stories featuring alumni of SNU, both athletes and non-athletes. If you know of an alumni whose story should be featured in The Echo, submit your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org