Tommy Eubanks, who spent the last four years as the athletic director for Desert Vista High School, has been hired for the same position at a district level by Mesa Public School.
Eubanks’ hire was approved by the Mesa Public Schools Governing Board at its bi-weekly meeting on Tuesday, March 30, where he was officially introduced alongside Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis.
“It’s going to be one of those things where it’s going to be new and a learning curve to see how everything is done in Mesa,” Eubanks said. “My thoughts even at school was how I can help my coaches to make their jobs easier. That’s what I’m going to still try to do even at a district level.”
A graduate of Deer Valley High School in Glendale, Eubanks worked his way up the coaching ranks before he stepped into an administrative role.
He played baseball under his father, Larry, at Deer Valley before continuing his career at Central Arizona College and McNeese State in Louisiana. He returned to the Valley to obtain his master’s degree from the University of Phoenix, where he also joined his father as an assistant coach at his alma mater and helped coach the Skyhawks to the 2006 state title. Eubanks also became involved with the Deer Valley golf program and began teaching and coaching basketball and cross country at Hillcrest Middle School. He also spent time as head baseball coach at Mountain Ridge.
Eubanks became involved in leadership training at Hillcrest, which ultimately allowed him to be hired as athletic director at Chaparral High School in 2012, where he remained for five years before leaving to take over the same position at Desert Vista.
Under Eubanks, Desert Vista’s athletic programs continued to improve. The boys soccer team won the state title in 2018, while the basketball team won in 2020. The girls cross country team, a national power, wrapped up its second straight title this past season. Eubanks also played a lead role in the installation of the new turf football field which was completed at the school last summer.
“Desert Vista has a lot of great coaches and maybe I helped remove some roadblocks but they’re the ones who really did an awesome job,” Eubanks said. “I worked with some amazing administrators and coaches. They were the cream of the crop as far as being supportive, which is important to create your vision.
“We were able to put in some sand courts that many schools don’t have, and my big push was the synthetic turf. There were some other things I had in the mix but I’m sure the next AD will pick up right where I left off.”
Eubanks’ contract with Desert Vista is set to expire in June. He will officially take over at Mesa Public Schools on July 1. He plans to use that time to spend with family, heading out of the state on vacation before he “hits the ground running.”
Taking over at a district filled with rich tradition is part of what makes the move exciting for Eubanks. It also has several projects in the works he can now play a direct role in, including the installation of turf fields at Mesa and Mountain View high schools, as well as other schools in the near future.
Overall, he hopes to follow in the footsteps of outgoing Mesa Athletic Director Dr. Steve Hogen, who announced his retirement after 22 years in the position and nearly 30 in total with the district.
“I’ve had a lot of respect for Dr. Hogen for a long time,” Eubanks said. “Being able to work alongside him in different committees and different meetings I’ve seen his level of professionalism and how he conducts himself. Mesa’s tradition has been so great for so long, that’s what made it one of the most sought-after positions.”
Hogen is and always has been a fan of the people that make the district not only the largest in the state, but one of the best, too. The relationships he’s been able to build with fellow administrators, coaches, parents, players and the community in general is what he says he will miss the most.
“I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of really good people,” Hogen said. “More than anything else, I’m going to miss the people and the kids. I enjoyed being around situations where kids were put into situations where they can succeed. I’m going to miss that.”
Hogen’s retirement brings an end to a career in education and athletics that began in 1979 at McClintock High School in Tempe. It was there Hogen, a junior at Arizona State at the time, got his first head basketball coaching job at the freshman level. After spending a year in Las Vegas, Hogen returned to the Valley and began coaching at Dobson High School then Mesa High, the beginning of his long career in Mesa.
When Red Mountain High School opened in 1988, Hogen was hired to coach basketball and golf. He was asked to step into a teacher on assignment type of role that included athletic director duties.
As the school approached nearly 2,000 students, he was asked to become the full-time athletic director for the school.
“At the time I was still pretty young, so I thought, ‘well, what the heck let’s give this a shot,’” Hogen recalled. “I enjoyed it and it kind of took off from there. This job kind of fell my way and it worked out.”
Hogen flourished in his administrative role at Red Mountain and eventually ended up as district athletic director in 1999. He will remain in that position until June, when his contract with the district will expire and he will enter retirement.
Admittedly, it’s a bittersweet feeling. But as an avid golf lover, he is looking forward to spending more time on the course. Hogen also laughed at the thought of not having to go to an athletic event on a Friday night for the first time since 1979.
“I kind of knew it was time,” Hogen said. “There’s no celebration or bitterness. I just think now was the right time. I’ll have Friday nights to do what I want to do. I like to mountain bike, I like to exercise and I like to golf. Now I have the opportunity to do that kind of stuff.”
Hogen did not play a role in the hiring process, as he said he was close with many of the applicants and wanted the process to play out in a fair way. He has spoken to Eubanks since he was introduced by Mesa Superintendent Dr. Andi Fourlis, including a few meetings.
He is confident Eubanks will continue to lead the district’s athletics programs in a strong manner and will pick up where he left off with district projects, including the installation of turf fields at its high schools.
“He’s going to walk into a situation where at our six schools we have six really good athletic directors,” Hogen said. “He’s going to have good coaches, good athletes and a community around him. I think it’s a situation where he has every opportunity to continue moving forward with success.”
Eubanks will finish out the remaining school year at Desert Vista before taking over at the largest public school district in the state. Mesa is home to 87 total schools, a large majority of which offer some sort of athletics or other activities. Among those are 11 junior highs and six high schools, which offer sports in all three seasons.
The search for Eubanks’ replacement at Desert Vista was not one that took long, as current Desert Vista Dean of Students David Klecka was recommended to take over as athletic director. Klecka also serves as the head freshman football coach and head track and field coach for the Thunder.
The Tempe Union High School District Governing Board is scheduled to vote on Klecka’s hire during Wednesday’s board meeting.