March 4, 2012
By Tom Weber
CARBONDALE, IL - After 10 years of working with Chris Lowery as media services director, I feel like I know him pretty well. In fact, I consider him a good friend.
If we ever had an argument, I don't remember it. He let me do my job, listened to my suggestions and never had an unkind word. In fact, he considered me a part of the team family, invited me to "film study" the night before games and kept me in the loop with what was going on. Not every SID is that lucky in their dealings with a head coach.
Despite all the losses this year, I thought his sessions with the media were always professional. He never lost his cool the way you see some coaches do when things go bad. He was accessible. From the standpoint of media relations, I could not have asked for better.
Like many of his contemporaries, Coach Lowery made a lot of money, and performance expectations were understandably high. He was not a perfect head coach at Southern as the record reflects.
The night that Coach was let go, I sent him a text message to thank him for all that he's done for Saluki Basketball and for me personally. He led SIU to two NCAA Tournaments as a player and three NCAA Tournaments as head coach. It was Chris Lowery who coined the term FloorburnU. You probably still have the shirts in your closet. He orchestrated the Sweet 16 season in 2007 that produced a No. 11 ranking and national acclaim.
At an appropriate time in the future, Chris Lowery will no doubt be inducted into the Saluki Hall of Fame. I hope that by that time, Southern Illinois has made many more NCAA Tournament trips, and I hope that Chris does the same with whichever school he happens to be coaching.
I was a panicked father that night, and Coach Lowery called me from the Hammons Center right before practice. He'd been down that road many times with his son, Kahari, he said. He told me to stay calm, not to worry, have faith in God and trust the doctors. Thankfully, the heart problem turned out to be nothing serious.
A couple weeks ago while waiting for the post-game press conference to begin after SIU beat Evansville, Coach sat down in my office next to my now six-year-old son and talked to him like he was a member of his family. It was touching to watch. Coach has probably long forgotten the phone call from 2005, but I never will.
I wish him nothing but the best.
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