Byrne announces resignation
Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 20:07
Texas A&M Director of Athletics Bill Byrne announced his retirement at a press conference today.
Byrne was appointed in December 2002 and his contract was set to expire August 31, 2013. However, Byrne said now is the right time to end his tenure as athletic director. He will assume the role of special adviser to University President R. Bowen Loftin beginning May 8. His duties will include “accompanying athletic teams to postseason championships and assisting the athletic department with the transition to the Southeastern Conference.”
Byrne first began as athletic director in 1984 at the University of Oregon, then at Nebraska where he stayed for 11 years. He resigned from Nebraska to become athletic director at A&M. Here, he led the University to 45 Big 12 Championships and 17 national championships. Byrne also saw unprecedented success with men’s and women’s basketball, track and field as well as the equestrian team and several other non-revenue sports.
During his press conference Byrne said, “I always knew Texas A&M was a special place, but it wasn’t until I arrived here and met the many wonderful people that I realized what the spirit of Aggieland was all about.”
He then thanked the coaches and the staff who worked with him.
“It has been an honor to work with every single coach … But coaches can’t do it by themselves. So it has been a priority to give the coaches and athletes the best possible support ... We have put together the best support staff in the nation.”
Byrne noted the accomplishments made in the past 10 years, particularly upgrades made to athletic facilities.
“Over the last 10 years, the 12th Man Foundation has raised over $110 million to make improvements to every single one of our teams … We have virtually paid cash for every single [new building]. Facilities help us recruit, help us train our athletes and they provide a better game day experience for all of our fans. “
Byrne then acknowledged the person he said has the most influence in his life — his wife Marilyn Byrne.
“She stood by my side for the past 44 years. On several occasions, including our move to College Station, Marilyn has sacrificed her professional career to support my ambitions…She has blessed me with unwavering support, incredible insight and common sense and wisdom that never ceases to amaze me.”
Students were also a big part of Byrne’s time at A&M. Byrne said his memories of students will last him a lifetime.
“Students are the spirit of Aggieland. There is no student body like them. In fact, no one even comes close. When it comes to what I’ll miss most about being an athletic director, that’s easy. I’ll miss the student athletes.”
Following Byrne’s announcement of his resignation, the crowd delivered a standing ovation.
A question and answer session then began. Byrne was asked what his proudest accomplishment was as athletic director and he said [former Texas A&M University President Robert Gates] challenged him to change the culture of A&M.
“We wanted a culture of where we expected to win. And if you listen to what has happened over the past 10 years, our students, our coaches, and all of you expect to win.”
Byrne said his biggest disappointment was A&M’s football record.
“The thing I wished we would have done is win more football games. I probably know most about football and last year was an absolute crusher. We lost four games by nine points … That was emotional.”
Several coaches were in attendance, including Gary Blair, head coach for the women’s basketball team.
Blair voiced his support for Byrne following the press conference. “We sell out every venue and host more championships in the Big 12… If we’re doing so well, why not keep the chief who put it there…The world’s going to go without a damn football playoffs.”
Byrne said he plans to stay in College Station following his retirement. “I plan to be just like the rest of you. I’m going to bitch about the ticket prices and complain about the concession stands.”
Member of the System Board of Regents Jim Wilson and Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook will lead the nationwide search for the next athletic director.