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Bill Byrne
Director of Athletics

Bill Byrne is in his ninth year of Building Champions as Director of Athletics at Texas A&M University.

With more than 25 years experience as a Division I athletic director, Byrne has impressive credentials and a track record for producing champions on and off the field.

Since Byrne was introduced to Aggieland in December of 2002, the Aggies have won 41 Big 12 Conference Championships in 11 different sports and captured seven team national championships in equestrian, six in outdoor track and field, one in women’s basketball, and one in men’s golf.  The 40 championships won by the Aggies from January 2003 through the end of the 2011 season rank second in the league.  The Aggies’ 32 conference championships won during the last five seasons combined are the second most of any school.

The 2010-11 athletic season was a record setting campaign as A&M captured four national championships, and nine Big 12 Championships. Both marks were school-bests.

In the prestigious Director’s Cup all-sport rankings, Byrne has guided A&M to its six highest finishes in school history, include back-to-back top eight finishes. The Aggies completed the 2009-10 season ranked 6th in the nation — its best finish ever. In 2010-11, the Aggies tallied their most points ever and finished 8th to lead the Big 12 Conference.

In the inaugural Capital One Cup which tracks team’s final rankings, the Aggies were the top ranking team from the Big 12. The Aggie women finished second with five top 10 finishes, while the Aggie men finished tied for third with five top 10 finishes.

Under Byrne’s leadership, the department has made significant upgrades in facilities and increased revenue opportunities, while remaining focused on winning on the playing field and in the classroom.

Byrne manages an annual athletic budget in excess of $75 million. During his tenure at A&M, he has overseen the construction or renovation of approximately $85 million in athletic facilities.  Byrne teamed with the 12th Man Foundation, the institution’s primary fundraising organization for athletics, to develop a comprehensive plan for A&M’s athletic facilities. Together, they secured several major gifts for the second and third phases of A&M’s Championship Vision Capital Campaign raising over $100 million.

The cornerstone of Phase Three of the campaign is the renovation and expansion of A&M’s baseball stadium Olsen Field. The $26 million project is scheduled for completion in February of 2012 and will make the 31-year old facility a premier college baseball destination. Thanks to a $7 million lead gift by Ed and Howard Kruse, the stadium will be named Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

Citing the need for an indoor football facility and an indoor track and field stadium, Byrne ensured the multi-purpose $36 million McFerrin Athletic Center became a reality in 2007 and 2008, respectively as part of Phase Two. The complex boasts a full sized football field, a state-of-the-art hydraulic track capable of hosting national championships, and seating for 5,000 spectators.

At the same time, Byrne recognized the need for a basketball practice facility that would allow the basketball teams to each have their own practice courts, locker rooms, a weight room, an athletic training room, and offices under the same roof.  In the fall of 2008, the $23 million Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball opened its doors as part of an expansion to Reed Arena.

Known as one of the most innovative and influential leaders in terms of marketing, Byrne has made an impressive impact in marketing Aggie Athletics.  In January of 2006, A&M awarded the school’s athletic multimedia marketing rights for 10 years to a joint venture of Learfield Communications, ISP Sports, and FSN Southwest – known collectively as Texas A&M Sports Properties.  The agreement is one of the top multimedia rights contracts in the country and provides significant income for A&M athletics throughout the length of the agreement.

The forward-thinking Byrne tabbed the guaranteed revenue from the Learfield agreement to finance the department’s ambitious video screen and ribbon board expansion project which included Kyle Field, Reed Arena, and a portable video screen mounted on a 53-foot 18-wheeler. He also expanded the department’s nationally recognized television production operation, 12th Man Productions.

Success on the field, coupled with a focus on the school’s in-game marketing, helped boost attendance across the board resulting in increased season ticket revenue. Under Byrne’s leadership, season ticket sales for men’s and women’s basketball have significantly increased since 2003 – men’s basketball has grown by 86 percent and women’s basketball by an impressive 302 percent.

Increased attendance at home contests has also been aided by the creation of a fan rewards program for frequent attendance. The 12th Man Team Rewards Program is a fan-loyalty program that allows A&M’s Athletic Department to thank their most dedicated fans’ continued support and attendance at the school’s home athletic events. Upon its inception in 2003, attendance records at A&M were immediately shattered. To date, each sport offered at A&M has set at least one new school attendance record. 

While at A&M, Byrne has hired 11 head coaches in nine sports. Each hire has achieved postseason competition within their first two seasons.

Student-athletes at A&M have continued to excel in the classroom during Byrne’s tenure. In the Fall of 2010, 249 student-athletes were named to the Big 12 Commissioners Honor Roll. During the Spring of 2011, 269 student-athletes earned mention on the commissioner’s honor roll.

Byrne came to A&M after serving as the Athletic Director at the University of Nebraska from 1992-2002.  Under his watch, the Cornhuskers won an impressive 83 Big 12 and Big Eight Conference championships.  Byrne’s 48 Big 12 titles ranked second in the league during his tenure at Nebraska.  The Huskers also won 10 national championships, including three in football and two in women’s volleyball.  Together, Byrne’s teams compiled an extremely impressive string of nine straight top 25 finishes in the Director’s Cup Division I-A standings.

Nine of the 15 head coaches hired by Byrne reached NCAA postseason play during their first three years. 

At the same time, Byrne succeeded in putting the Huskers’ finances in the black while increasing the annual athletic budget threefold.  A noted fundraiser, he led a $36 million football improvement project for Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium.  He also completed an agreement to share a $30 million baseball and softball complex with the city of Lincoln.  In total, he oversaw numerous facility upgrades valued at more than $100 million.

In 1993, the innovative Byrne added big screens to Memorial Stadium, the first college stadium to undertake such a project.  HuskerVision quickly became the model for all collegiate programs for big screen and in-house television production.  A primary tool to promote and market all of the Nebraska athletic programs, HuskerVision generated significant sponsorship revenue for the department as well as improving fan enjoyment and atmosphere at games. 

Meanwhile, Husker student-athletes excelled in the classroom, and 109 were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans.

In 1996, the Big Eight and Southwest Conferences combined forces to form the Big 12.  Byrne played a pivotal role in the formation of what has become one of the nation’s powerhouse conferences.

Byrne’s first role as athletic director was at the University of Oregon from 1984-1992.  Byrne arrived in Eugene, Oregon in late 1982, where he served 18 months as an associate athletic director, before being appointed one of the youngest athletic directors in the country in May of 1984.

Under his watch, the Ducks captured 16 Pac 10 Conference championships and three national championships in track and field and cross country.

It was at Oregon where Byrne first earned the reputation for outstanding hiring practices.  He also made major changes to the landscape of Oregon’s athletic facilities and earned the nickname “Bill the Builder.”

Byrne established a full-time marketing and promotions operation which formed the Oregon Sports Network for statewide, in-house production of Ducks games on television and radio.  He also spearheaded the formation of Oregon’s first Hall of Champions and Hall of Fame, which was later dedicated in his honor.

Byrne began his collegiate career as the director of alumni relations at his alma mater Idaho State and then served as executive director of the New Mexico Lobo Club from 1976-79.  He was the assistant athletic director for external operations at San Diego State from 1980-82.

Throughout his career, Byrne has been recognized with the highest awards an athletics administrator can receive.  Among his many accolades, honors include the U.S. Sports Academy 2007 Carl Maddox Sports Management Award; the 2002 winner of the National Football Foundation John L. Toner Award; the 1999 Central Region National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Director of the Year; president of NACDA in 1991-92; and the National Athletic Fundraisers Association Fundraiser of the Year in 1985.

Byrne is a 1967 graduate of Idaho State University, where he also served as student body president.  He earned an MBA in 1971.

Byrne’s wife of more than 40 years is Dr. Marilyn Kent Byrne, who has expertise in leadership development, team building, and executive coaching.  The Byrnes have two sons – Bill III and Greg.  Bill is a vice president of Visa USA in San Francisco, and Greg is the director of athletics at the University of Arizona.  Greg and his wife Regina live in Tucson, Ariz., with their sons Nicholas and Davis.

The Byrne File

Byrne's Road to Aggieland

2002-present Texas A&M (athletic director)
1992-2002 Nebraska (athletic director)
1984-92 Oregon (athletic director)
1983-84 Oregon (associate athletic director)
1980-82 San Diego State (assistant athletic director)
1976-79 New Mexico (executive director of Lobo Club)
1971-76 Idaho State (director of alumni relations)

Committee Service

2007 Special Youth Initiatives Committee, NCAA Football
2005-06 Chairman, Big 12 Conference Board of Athletic Directors
2003-present Board of Directors, The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame
2003-04 Vice President, U.S. Collegiate Sports Council now known as USA International University Sports Federation Committee
2003 Division I Football Issues Committee, NCAA
1999-2003 Division I Championships Competition Cabinet, NCAA
1998-99 Chairman, Big 12 Conference Board of Athletic Directors
1997-present Board of Directors, NCAA Football
1997-2001 Division I Strategic Planning Cabinet, NCAA
1995-97 Special Committee to Study Marketing, Licensing, NCAA
1994-97 Special Events Committee, NCAA
1993 Division I Committee on Athletic Certification, NCAA
1992 Executive Committee, NACDA
1991-92 President, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
1990-94 Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, College Football Association (CFA)
1989-present Board of Directors, U.S. Collegiate Sports Council now known as USA International University Sports Federation Committee
1989-91 Third, Second, and First Vice President, NACDA
1988 Chairman, Pac 10 Conference Executive Committee
1986-present Executive Committee, National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics
1986-88 Board of Directors, Division I-A Athletic Directors

Honors

2007 Carl Maddox Sports Management Award, U.S. Sports Academy
2005 College of Business Professional Achievement Award, Idaho State University
2003-04 CHAMPS Program of Excellence Award, Division I-A Athletic Directors Association
2002 John L. Toner Award, The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame
1999 Central Region NACDA/Continental Athletic Director of the Year
1999 Gen. Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletic Director Award, All-American Football Foundation
1998-99 CHAMPS Program of Excellence Award, Division I-A Athletic Directors Association
1996 Distinguished Alum, Idaho State University
1993 Hall of Champions at Oregon's Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Ore. , dedicated in his honor
1985 National Fundraiser of the Year, National Athletic Fundraisers Association


Inside the Numbers

As a Division I Athletic Director
National Championships: 27
Conference Championships: 139

At Texas A&M 2003-present
National Championships: 15
Year Sport Head Coach
2011 Women's Outdoor Track & Field Pat Henry
2011 Men's Outdoor Track & Field Pat Henry
2011 Women's Basketball Gary Blair
2011 Equestrian Tana McKay
2010 Women's Outdoor Track & Field Pat Henry
2010 Men's Outdoor Track & Field Pat Henry
2009-10 Equestrian Tana McKay
2009 Women's Outdoor Track & Field Pat Henry
2009 Men's Outdoor Track & Field Pat Henry
2008-09 Men's Golf J.T. Higgins
2008-09 Equestrian Tana McKay
2006-07 Equestrian Tana McKay
2004-05 Equestrian Tana McKay
2003-04 Equestrian Tana McKay
2002-03 Equestrian Tana McKay

Conference Championships:40

Sport Head Coach Total Year
Baseball Rob Childress 5 2007t, 08, 10t, 11, 11t
Basketball-W Gary Blair 3 2007, 08t, 10t
Equestrian Tana McKay 1 2011
Football Mike Sherman 1 2010 (south)
Golf-W Trelle McCombs 1 2010
Golf-W Jeanne Sutherland 2 2006, 07
Soccer G Guerrieri 6 2004, 04t, 05, 05t, 06, 07, 11
Softball Jo Evans 3 2005, 08, 08t
Swimming/Diving-W Steve Bultman 3 2007, 08, 10
Tennis-M Steve Denton 1 2011t
Tennis-W Bobby Kleinecke 2 2003, 04t
Track and Field-W (indoor) Pat Henry 4 2007, 08, 09, 10
Track and Field-W (outdoor) Pat Henry 5 2007, 08, 09, 10, 11
Track and Field-M (outdoor) Pat Henry 1 2011
Track and Field-M (outdoor) Pat Henry 1 2011

Texas A&M Athletic Finishes in National All-Sports Rankings (Director's Cup)

2010-11 8th second-best
2009-10 6th school best
2008-09 13th third-best
2007-08 12th second-best
2006-07 18th fifth-best
2005-06 23rd  
2004-05 26th  
2003-04 16th fourth-best
2002-03 28th  


At Nebraska 1992-2002

National Championships: 10

 

Year Sport Head Coach
2001 Bowling-W Bill Straub
2000 Volleyball John Cook
1999 Bowling-W Bill Straub
1997 Bowling-W Bill Straub
1997 Football Tom Osborne
1995 Bowling-W Bill Straub
1995 Volleyball Terry Pettit
1995 Football Tom Osborne
1994 Football Tom Osborne
1994 Gymnastics-M Francis Allen

Conference Championships: 83

Nebraska Athletic Finishes in National All-Sports Rankings (Director's Cup)

2001-02 22nd
2000-01 13th
1999-2000 6th
1998-99 12th
1997-98 9th
1996-97 4th
1995-96 8th
1994-95 9th
1993-94 18th
1992-93 rankings started in 1993-94

NCAA Top VIII Award Recipients

Year Sport Student-Athlete
2002 Volleyball Nancy Metcalf
1998 Football Grant Wistrom
1996 Football Aaron Graham
1995 Football Rob Zatechka
1994 Football Trev Alberts
1992 Volleyball Janet Kruse


At Oregon 1984-1992

National Championships: 4

 

Year Sport Head Coach
1987 Cross Country-W Tom Heinonen
1985 Track and Field-W Tom Heinonen
1984 Track and Field-M Bill Dillinger
1983 Cross Country-W Tom Heinonen

Conference Championships: 16

NCAA Top VI Award Recipients

Year Sport Student-Athlete
1987 Cross Country/Track and Field Dub Myers
1986 Volleyball Susan Harbour
1986 Track and Field Kathryn Hayes