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His resume seems void of a connection to Western New York. But that's only if you give it a quick glance. Take a moment, and Tom Crowley will tell you about growing up in Philadelphia and watching as Niagara's Calvin Murphy dropped 52 points against La Salle. His senior season at Penn, he helped knock off St. Bonaventure in the first round of the 1978 NCAA Tournament. And for good measure, he played against current Niagara University coach Joe Mihalich, a 1978 graduate of La Salle. Crowley understands and appreciates Western New York basketball. He especially appreciates the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. So when he was introduced as the new athletic director for Niagara on Thursday afternoon, Crowley said this opportunity felt like the right fit. “Niagara, like many members of the MAAC was a very important part of my childhood,” Crowley said. “These were the schools that visited Philadelphia on a regular basis all through the 60s and 70s when I was a young boy growing up there. I can recount many exciting games. ... As I transitioned into the business side of college athletics, I was paying closer attention because I think that the MAAC and places like Niagara are taking a reasonable, smart approach to Division I athletics. That was very appealing to me.” Crowley comes to Niagara from Butler, where he was the associate athletic director for internal operations for the past five years. A 1978 graduate of The Wharton School, Crowley has a business background, played basketball at Penn and was a coach. He worked at Vermont and at Temple primarily in fundraising roles within the athletic departments. While his goal was to be a Division I athletic director, Crowley said he wasn't applying for any job opening. He was selective, wanting the right fit and he felt he found that with Niagara. “The culture makes it a good match,'' he said. “Niagara always talks about an education that makes a difference. And for me, personally, I'm a first-generation college-educated person. I was the first in my family to college .... and that education really made a difference. That resonated with me about the job here. At all places people talk about values. We talked about it at Butler. You talk about it at IBM. But at a place like Niagara, when we get done talking about values, we then can look up to the sky and say those values come from God. That was appealing to me.” Crowley has spent most of his time at schools where men's basketball was the flagship program, notably Temple and Butler as the Bulldogs went to the NCAA Championship game in 2010 and '11. Butler, which was in the Horizon League but moves this year to the Atlantic 10, is a flagship for the mid-major school. Can that happen at Niagara? “I think all these schools share way more in common than what separates them,” Crowley said. “Butler and Niagara are very close in terms of scope of operation, size of staff, budgets, etc. It's not that much different. The difference with Butler is it obviously has an iconic field house in this unbelievable basketball culture that exists in the state of Indiana. And Butler's been on a long stretch. This didn't just happen. .” It won't happen overnight at Niagara. Most athletic directors are hired in the spring or summer, but Crowley took the job just a few days ago and officially starts on Monteagle Ridge Nov. 1. That actually gives Crowley the opportunity to learn before formulating his priority list. “I would want to be a person who is listening and watching and trying to learn the most I could,” Crowley said. “I've got time to do that, to study and learn the Niagara culture and how we operate on a day-to-day basis. So in terms of building a plan for Niagara athletics, the first thing I'm going to do is listen.” email: amoritz@buffnews.com