Howdy, Ags --
A sincere commitment. This is one of the primary things that attracted me to Aggieland over a year ago. Texas A&M was making a commitment to compete for SEC and national championships in athletics and to become one of the top universities in the country. Since becoming your athletics director, I have seen this sincere commitment manifested time and time again, with the opening of the Tommie E. Lohman ’59 Center and the R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center and the redevelopment of Kyle Field, the largest such project in the history of college football. And the list goes on and on.
Last weekend we made another sincere, long-term commitment to building Texas A&M into one of the top football programs in the country by offering Head Football Coach Kevin Sumlin a new six-year contract. What you are seeing is that we are building a strong foundation in terms of our coaches, facilities and student-athletes for success not just in the 2012 or 2013 seasons, but well into the future. In my nearly 40 years of working in collegiate athletics, I have never experienced a commitment at the level Texas A&M has made, and continues to make on a daily basis.
Are we where we want to be? Certainly not. I always like to remind people that “cathedrals are built one brick at a time” and sustainable success is not realized overnight. While we finished the 2013 regular season 8-4 overall, three of our losses were to the number 3, 4 and 5 teams in the country. Our other loss was to LSU in one of the toughest stadiums in the country to play. We are getting closer to competing for an SEC Championship, but we are not there yet.
I am excited that we have a leader for the long-term in Coach Sumlin, who has the record, expertise, energy and staff to help Texas A&M reach its full potential. Coach Sumlin is recruiting experience and depth across all positions on our football team, particularly “in the trenches” where football games are won and lost in the SEC. Our upcoming bowl game will provide another opportunity for the continued development of our football program and to showcase our outstanding university across the country.
As you well know, our commitment to Building Champions reaches across all of our sports at here Texas A&M. A few highlights from the past several weeks:
- The soccer team won the SEC Tournament and shared the SEC regular-season title. Congratulations to the team and Coach G. Guerrieri, who was named SEC Coach of the Year and led the Aggies to yet another NCAA Tournament appearance.
- Volleyball won seven of our last eight matches to close out the regular season. We will make our third consecutive and 21st overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament beginning on Friday.
- Women’s swimming and diving recently took over the top spot in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Division 1 Team Rankings.
- Women’s cross country recently finished second in the SEC Championships – the highest conference finish ever for Texas A&M.
- Our men’s basketball team is incredibly young, with seven first-time players, but they are playing with a high level of intensity and excitement. After last night’s win over Houston, we are 7-0 at Reed Arena.
- And Coach Gary Blair continues to have our women’s basketball team ranked among the top programs in the country. The women play four games at Reed Arena in December, beginning this Saturday against Washington.
These are definitely exciting times in Aggieland. We appreciate your ongoing support and the sincere commitment that each of you has made along with us. I hope to see you at Reed Arena yelling for our basketball teams. We have several Holiday Hoops promotions for discounted basketball tickets underway through the first of January, so bring your families and support the Aggies.
And finally, I would like to congratulate my good friend, Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, upon his selection as Chancellor of the University of Missouri. His bold leadership charted a new path for Texas A&M, and especially for our Athletics Department. It has been an honor working with him at Texas A&M, and I look forward to his continued leadership at one of our SEC member institutions.
Thanks, and Gig ’em!
Director of Athletics