Texas Exes honor Dodds with Distinguished Service Award
Oct. 25, 2010
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
Three decades ago, DeLoss Dodds came to The University of Texas and pledged to run the athletics department "with integrity and credibility." And it is clear that he has kept that promise.
This weekend, Dodds was recognized by the Texas Exes with the Distinguished Service Award, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a non-alumnus of The University. Nationally recognized as the leader behind one of the nation's most successful programs, Dodds has been a powerful force in collegiate athletics for the more than 50 years since he headed to college to play football and run track at Kansas State University.
A high school star in three sports, Dodds' football career was cut short by a knee injury in his freshman year, but he went on to become an outstanding competitor in track and field, and soon made his way into coaching and athletics administration.
After serving as a tank commander with the U. S. Army, he worked as an award winning collegiate track coach, as assistant commissioner of the Big Eight Conference and as Athletics Director at his alma mater, Kansas State. In 1981, he came with his wife Mary Ann and three children to the Longhorn family -- to accept the job as the ninth-ever athletics director at The University of Texas.
Since then, he's become a grandfather, and has guided Texas through some of the school's most dynamic times. Dodds quickly became a leader at the conference and national levels, and was a steadying factor in the early days of live football television and NCAA and conference reorganization.
In the 1990s, he was one of the architects of the Big 12 Conference.
During his tenure at Texas, the Longhorns have claimed 13 National Championships and 101 conference (Southwest and Big 12) titles in nine different sports. The Longhorns have earned 23 bowl berths in football, received an NCAA basketball tourney bid 21 times and won three NCAA baseball titles while advancing to the College World Series 15 times under Dodds' watch. The Longhorns have also been among the nation's best in swimming and diving, tennis, golf and men's track and field.
When Dodds came to Texas, college athletics, were about to undergo their most drastic change in history. At UT, this happened under Dodds' watch, and it is was now DeLoss' responsibility to maintain, and enhance, a program sailing into uncharted waters.
In his first year, DeLoss inherited a budget for men's athletics of $4.8 million. The projected budget in 2010-11 for the department that he oversees, including facilities such as Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and the Erwin Center and an umbrella for all women's sports, is more than $136 million. This past year, UT Athletics committed more than $6 million to The University.
But to Dodds, the value of the experience of the young people whose future he and his staff oversee is priceless. Where issues with Title IX and rising costs have forced some schools to cut some men's sports, Texas and DeLoss have increased women's sports and participation to make the numbers work. He has hired top coaches in all sports, and funded their programs to give them a chance to succeed.
Where contributions accounted for $500,000 of the budget in 1981, today annual contributions are more than $35 million. And when DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium became outdated, Dodds spearheaded a $68 million improvement, and then in 2008 added a $176 million project which included the north end's "Red McCombs Red Zone" (for longtime donor Red McCombs), that made it a showpiece for football in the Southwest.
Mack Brown once said, "We are in the education business during the week and the entertainment business on the weekends." And if entertaining means succeeding in the arena, year after year, UT's overall excellence is consistently the nation's best.
All of that became very evident during the firestorm of discussions about conference realignment last spring. Amid a media frenzy loaded with rumors and inaccuracies, Dodds, his counterpart Women's Athletics Director Chris Plonsky and UT President Bill Powers, once again had to re-evaluate Texas' position on the college athletics landscape.
From that reassessment came something new housed in the structure of something old. The Big 12 Conference, minus two of its original members, soon will embark on a new journey as one of the prestigious leagues in college sports. Dodds' vision has never changed, and the goals he stated, though adjusted with the changing times, have remained the same.
In any conversation with Dodds, he is far more interested in finding out how you are, than he is telling you how he is. He is a private man who deflects credit, reflects happiness and absorbs pain.
He has been honored with the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame's John L. Toner Award and also a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Longhorn Hall of Honor. And has now been honored by the Texas Exes for his Distinguished Service to The University.
All of that is hard for DeLoss to accept, because he has long said that coaches are stars, players are stars and administrators are administrators. He has seen his job as one to manage things so that The University succeeds, and that young people can learn and grow in a safe environment.
It never has been about him.