Dr. John Thornton was named Interim Director of Athletics at Texas A&M University, school President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin announced Tuesday, May 8, 2012.

Thornton has been associated with Texas A&M for 31 years, spending the last 10 years as Senior Associate Athletic Director for Student-Athlete Development at Texas A&M. He coordinates student-athlete academic services, strength and conditioning, athletic training, and financial aid.

Previously, Thornton served as assistant athletic director for student-athlete services, after nine years as an assistant men's basketball coach at Texas A&M. He was a standout basketball player at Texas A&M in 1974 and '75, and later served as the Aggies' interim head men's basketball coach in 1990.

"It's an honor to be asked by my University to serve in this interim capacity," Thornton said. "I am going to do everything I possibly can to continue the positive momentum we have built in the classroom and on the playing fields at Texas A&M. We have a lot of talented student-athletes, coaches, and staff, and I am looking forward to leading them during this time period. It's an exciting time at Texas A&M. We only get one chance to make a first impression, and I will be working hard to make sure our transition to the Southeastern Conference is exceptional."

Thornton received his bachelor's and master's degree from Texas A&M. He received a doctorate degree in educational administration from Texas A&M in 1997.

Loftin filled the vacancy created when Bill Byrne announced his retirement as Texas A&M's Director of Athletics effective August 31. Byrne was named Special Advisor to the President earlier in the day.

"I appreciate Dr. Thornton's willingness to lead Texas A&M Athletics while we search for a new athletic director," Loftin said. "John will provide the necessary leadership as we continue our transition into the Southeastern Conference. He has been involved in many aspects of the athletics program during his long tenure with Texas A&M, particularly in working with our coaches, student-athletes and scheduling. I know his leadership and insight will be invaluable during this interim period, as well as in preparing Texas A&M for our next athletic director."

A nationwide search for a permanent Director of Athletics will begin immediately. Jim Wilson, a current member of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the 12th Man Foundation, along with Texas A&M University Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook, will serve as co-chairs of the search advisory committee. The University's goal is to have the next Director of Athletics identified, and on campus, before the start of the fall semester.