Baker 'grows up' with UT Athletics
Jan. 5, 2012
Jim Baker, who has instrumentally served UT Athletics during a robust growth period, most recently as the associate athletics director for events, operations and sports programs, is leaving the Forty Acres to become the new director of intercollegiate athletics at the University of Texas-Arlington.
Baker, 54, came to work at The University of Texas in 1991 originally as the director of concessions/merchandising. His work in athletics, however, began in 1972, when he sold fountain drinks at Ohio State University's Ohio Stadium, and Baker also worked at the University of Florida from 1982-1991.
"I've been in stadiums basically forever," Baker said. "My office has always been in a football stadium."
Baker oversaw gameday operations for football and maintenance at all UT Athletics facilities. Baker's career-long work experience in stadiums also allowed him to assume supervision of UT's construction projects since 1997.
"It's not so much I knew construction, I just knew what people wanted. I learned the process, and that's kind of just what I know because I've been in stadiums my whole life," Baker said.
Over the past two decades, the Longhorns have used $380 million to renovate or build facilities.
The most recent renovations include the more than $200 million project to upgrade Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. With the new Red McCombs Red Zone on the stadium's north end and an expanded south end zone seating area, stadium capacity is now more than 100,000. This project also includes south end zone construction that added bleachers, a new football academic center and expanded training and medical facilities. The natural grass playing surface was also removed in favor of the more durable FieldTurf.
UFCU Disch-Falk Field, home to the championship baseball team, recently received a $27.3 million refurbishment that features 19 suites, a player development area and new FieldTurf. Faithful Texas fans also enjoy an expanded concourse, more concession areas and rest rooms.
Baker arrives at UT-Arlington just in time to usher the Mavericks into the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in July. He will oversee all 14 sports programs.
"We are fortunate to have such an exceptional leader join us at this critical point in the evolution of our program," UT-Arlington president James D. Spaniolo said. "Jim has unparalleled experience and a proven track record with one of the most respected and successful athletics programs in the nation."
Baker officially begins his duties on Feb. 1, when the university will also ceremoniously open its new $78 million College Park Center.
"Jim Baker has grown up with our program," UT Men's Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds said. "He has managed all of our construction projects, been very involved in all of our sports programs, and has had a hand in every major decision we have made in the past five years. Jim has a burn to be the best, and he will be a great asset for UT-Arlington."