Bill Byrne
Director of Athletics

Got some news for you Aggies! We have an update to our football schedule for 2012, just six short months away from kicking off the season. We have added Louisiana Tech for Thursday, August 30 at Independence Stadium in Shreveport, La., which means we had to step away from our agreement for a Sept. 1 game with McNeese State at Kyle Field.

We’ve also added South Carolina State for Saturday, Sept. 22 at Kyle Field. We anticipate filling Nov. 17 with a game at Kyle Field while keeping Oct. 13 as our open date.

We have a contract out with one other institution, but it has not been signed and returned yet. We anticipate the contract being signed very soon.

Our series with Louisiana Tech begins this year as a road game, and then La. Tech will return to Kyle Field in 2016.

As part of our contract with McNeese State, we will pay them a buyout of $200,000 next fiscal year. We’re trying to have no more than one Div. 1-AA or FCS team on our schedule, but we may end up having to schedule two. Making this switch was the only way to work it out with Louisiana Tech. It was reported earlier this week that I had conversations with Florida State about being a part of our schedule. They needed a game after West Virginia dropped from their schedule. We tried to make it work, but couldn’t.

Our options were limited due to conference realignment. We expect the scheduling process to go much smoother in the future.

As for the game with Arkansas, we don’t have an update on that location, but we are hopeful to have one in the coming days.

Remember, if you were not a season ticket holder in 2011, and you want 2012 season tickets, you can add your name to our nearly 3,700-ticket waiting list by calling the Athletic Ticket Office at 1-888-99-AGGIE.

Speaking of SEC schedules, we recently received our 2012-13 league schedules for most sports except men’s and women’s basketball. We will have SEC AD meetings in Nashville soon to discuss basketball schedules. Schedules will be released for all sports when they are completed.

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Our men’s basketball team is stuck somewhere between a rock and a hard place right now. When you combine the injuries of three of our best players, the defection of a top freshman to St. Johns, and the health issues Coach Billy Kennedy faced in the preseason, it makes for a long year. I really like the way Coach Kennedy has responded to all of this adversity. You don’t hear any excuses, he just coaches the athletes on his team. I’ve been pleased to see the response from players on our team who were not expected to play such a major role as they are. Marilyn and I were lucky enough to travel with the team to Switzerland last summer, and we really developed a good relationship with the new players and coaching staff. We have great young Aggies on the team, and the staff is a fine group of men to lead our team.

 

They have their challenges, but history indicates we will be back where we want to be. I have great confidence in that.

Our next game is Saturday at Iowa State at 3 p.m. It will be televised by the Big 12 Network. Check your local listings for the channel in your area.

We have three home games remaining. We host Missouri at 1 p.m. on Feb. 18, Kansas at 8 p.m. on Feb. 22, and Kansas State at 6 p.m. on Feb. 28.

Tickets are available now by clicking here.

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Saturday night at Reed Arena was really neat. I got to see many of our former women’s basketball players who were back on campus for a reunion. While I only know a few of them from prior to Coach Gary Blair taking the helm, I was pleased to see many of those who were a big part of building our program. Patrice Reado gave me a hug, and I thought she was going to crush my ribs. She is still very strong! Even though Aqua Franklin was on the Kansas bench as an assistant coach, it was wonderful to see her after the game. LaToya Micheaux introduced me to her soon-to-be husband. And Jamila Ganter and Katy Pounds Lee were great to visit with as well. By the way we beat Kansas, too.

It looked like we had Kelsey Bone’s coming out party. Not only did she score 26 points, she also made a couple of terrific passes she was not making earlier in the year. I think she is becoming a very positive addition to our women’s basketball program.

Tonight, our defending national champions host Kansas State at 7 p.m. I hope you can bring the family out to tonight’s game and take advantage of our Family Four Pack deal. For $36 you will receive four general admission tickets, four Aggie dogs, and four small drinks. Additional guests are $9. This offer is not available at the door, so please click here to purchase in advance. We will also extend this offer for our game against Texas Tech on Feb. 25.

This Saturday, we face top-ranked Baylor in Waco at 5 p.m. The game will be televised nationally by FSN.

We have won six of our last seven conference games and are in a tie for second place with a 7-3 record. Overall our RPI is No. 11 nationally, and our strength of schedule is No. 2. We moved up three places in the AP Top 25 to No. 15 and to No. 14 in the coaches poll.

As a reminder, tickets are also on sale for the 2012 NCAA Women’s Basketball First and Second Rounds being hosted at Reed Arena on March 17 and 19. Our team will be playing opening round games at Reed Arena. Click here for more information and to select your seat.

Please mark your calendars for Saturday, Feb. 18 when we host Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. We will have our annual BTHO Breast Cancer game. We are selling special pink T-shirts for the game and offering $10 tickets, a portion of which benefits the Kay Yow Foundation. Click here for more information.

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I received a tour of the new Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park late last week. It is incredible! I know a lot of you, like me, are concerned whether or not the ballpark will be playable on opening day Feb 17. After the tour, I can tell you unless we have a tornado or some other catastrophe, we will be playing baseball. Will everything be finished? No, but the essentials will be ready to go. One thing that will be missing is our 12th Man TV. The fiber optic camera cables have not been pulled and since we are hosting the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships in late February, the portable 12th Man TV will stay put as it is the scoreboard for home track meets. As a result,  it will stay in the Gilliam Indoor Track Stadium for the first two weeks of the baseball season.

One of the things I came away from the tour was how impressive the facilities for our student-athletes are inside Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. I’ve been inside a lot of baseball facilities, and I can say without fear of contradiction, this new park is equivalent to any Triple A stadium I’ve seen. In fact we have a better home clubhouse and visiting team locker room than some of the older Major League Baseball facilities I’ve been in. It is really something. A tip of the hat to the Kruse Family and the other donors who made this facility happen.

Beginning this Saturday, we will start the required 100-hour burn-in of our new field lights. The contractor does not expect to turn the lights off until after our Opening Day game has concluded.

I hope you are making plans to join our No. 5 baseball team for Opening Day on Friday, Feb. 17 or for a game soon. Season tickets are available now by clicking here.

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Having talked about baseball, it’s also time to talk softball. Our No. 15 team begins the season Friday at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. Next week, we open the season at home with the Aggie Classic on Feb. 17-19.

Season tickets for softball are available now by clicking here.

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Congratulations to Coach Pat Henry and our men’s indoor track and field team for winning the New Balance Collegiate in New York City last Saturday. Our women finished fourth. Both of our teams are continuing to peak at the right time. Our final tune-up for the Big 12 Championships will be this Saturday when we host the Texas A&M Invitational. Joining us for the meet will be Alabama, Baylor, Houston, Missouri, Rice, TCU, USC and UTEP.

Also, congratulations to Henry Lelei and Natosha Rogers for being named conference track and field Athletes of the Week.

They both set school records last weekend while combining for three victories. In the distance medley relay Henry recorded a 1,600-meter split of 3:57.2 as he anchored us to a world-leading time of 9:29.71.

Natosha ran away from the field of runners in the 5,000 meters. Her time of 15:58.40, which just missed the NCAA auto mark of 15:57.00, topped the field by 27-plus seconds and lowered her career best from a previous mark of 16:44.69 set at this meet a year ago.

She broke the eight-year-old school record of 16:02.72 set by Melissa Gulli at the 2004 NCAA Indoor meet.

We are hosting the Big 12 Championships Feb. 24 and 25. Tickets are available by clicking here.

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Our No. 6 women’s swimming and diving team wrapped the regular season last weekend with a road win over Houston before beating North Texas in our pool.

Both our men and women will travel to Columbia, Mo., in two weeks for the Big 12 Championships.

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Our No. 11 men’s tennis team lost a road match to No. 2 Virginia while our women’s team beat LSU in Baton Rouge, La.

This week, our men’s team will face our friends from the state capital in a non-conference match in Houston on Friday before traveling to Tulsa for a Sunday match. The match in Houston will take place at The Downtown Club at the Met at 6 p.m.

Our women’s team will resume play next week with matches at Fresno State and Washington.

Season tickets for men’s and women’s tennis are available now by clicking here.

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The next action for our No. 3 equestrian team is when senior Maggie Earle represents us in the Winter Equestrian Festival’s Collegiate Equitation Challenge Friday night in south Florida. The full squad will resume competition on Feb. 25 at Oklahoma State.

Last week, our hunter squad fell to SMU while our western squad beat TCU.

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Recently, former Texas A&M football standout Dennis Allen was named the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. It’s great to see our former student-athletes succeed after completing their education at Texas A&M. Here is a good story on Dennis from WFAA-TV.

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I hope to see you at women’s basketball tonight and indoor track on Saturday.

Gig’Em!