Bill Byrne (athletic director)

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Bill Byrne
Bill Byrne headshot.jpg
Born Boston, Massachusetts
Education BA, Idaho State, 1967
MBA, Idaho State, 1971
Occupation

Special Adviser to President of Texas A&M University

Athletic Director Emeritus at Texas A&M University
Spouse(s) Dr. Marilyn Byrne
Children 2 sons

Clarence William "Bill" Byrne Jr. was athletic director of Texas A&M University from January 2003 to May 8, 2012 when he retired. He will be a Special Adviser to Texas A&M University President R. Bowen Loftin until August 31, 2012. Upon leaving the athletic department he will hold the title of Athletic Director Emeritus at Texas A&M.

Early life[edit]

Byrne grew up in Idaho. He attended Idaho State University, where he served as student body president and received a bachelor's degree in business in 1967. He went on to receive his MBA in 1971. From 1971–76, he served as the director of alumni relations at Idaho State. He then moved to the University of New Mexico, where he would serve as the executive director of the New Mexico Lobo Club, the division within the athletic department responsible for raising athletic scholarships, from 1976–79. From 1980–82, he was the assistant athletic director at San Diego State University.

Athletic director career[edit]

University of Oregon[edit]

Byrne started his head athletic directing career in 1984 at the University of Oregon. At Oregon, he led a $19 million fundraiser that helped to build new buildings for the football team and athletic offices. For his role in the fundraiser, he was named National Fundraiser of the Year by the National Athletic Fundraisers Association in 1985.

In 1991, Byrne ordered a worker to cut down and remove a newly installed George Greenamyer sculpture with a blowtorch. Byrne stated that he had found it "not in character with the rest of the front of the building". Greenamyer himself came to the scene, threatening to chain himself to the $54,000 sculpture to prevent its destruction. After mediation by UO president Myles Brand, it was agreed that the damage already done to the sculpture would be repaired, and it would be reinstalled on another location on campus.[1]

University of Nebraska–Lincoln[edit]

He served as the athletic director at University of Nebraska–Lincoln for 11 years from 1992–2003. His teams won 8 national championships and 82 Big Eight and Big 12 Conference championships. His athletic program compiled seven straight top 25 finishes in the standings of the NACDA Director's Cup. He resigned from Nebraska on December 2, 2002 to take over as athletic director at Texas A&M.[2]

Texas A&M University[edit]

During Byrne's tenure at A&M, the Aggies won 45 Big 12 Conference Championships in 11 different sports[3][4] and captured nine team national championships in equestrian,[5] six in outdoor track and field, one in women’s basketball, and one in men’s golf. The 40 championships won by the Aggies from January 2003 through the end of the 2011 season rank second in the league. The Aggies’ 33 conference championships won during the last five seasons combined are the second most of any school.

The 2010-11 athletic season was a record setting campaign as A&M captured four national championships, and nine Big 12 Championships. Both marks were school-bests.[citation needed]

In the Learfield Director’s Cup all-sport rankings, Byrne guided A&M to its six highest finishes in school history, include back-to-back top eight finishes. The Aggies completed the 2009-10 season ranked 6th in the nation — its best finish ever. In 2010-11, the Aggies tallied their most points ever and finished 8th to lead the Big 12 Conference.

Byrne managed an annual athletic budget in excess of $75 million. During his tenure at A&M, he oversaw the construction or renovation of approximately $85 million in athletic facilities. Byrne teamed with the 12th Man Foundation, the institution’s primary fundraising organization for athletics, to develop a comprehensive plan for A&M’s athletic facilities. Together, they secured several major gifts for the second and third phases of A&M’s Championship Vision Capital Campaign raising over $100 million.

The cornerstone of Phase Three of the campaign was the renovation and expansion of A&M’s baseball stadium Olsen Field. The $26 million project was completed in February 2012 and made the 31-year old facility a premier college baseball destination. Thanks to a $7 million lead gift by Ed and Howard Kruse of Blue Bell Creameries, the stadium is named Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.

Citing the need for an indoor football facility and an indoor track and field stadium, Byrne ensured the multi-purpose $36 million McFerrin Athletic Center became a reality in 2007 and 2008 as part of Phase Two. The complex boasts a full sized football field, a state-of-the-art hydraulic track which has hosted national championships, and seating for 5,000 spectators.

At the same time, Byrne recognized the need for a basketball practice facility that would allow the basketball teams to each have their own practice courts, locker rooms, a weight room, an athletic training room, and offices under the same roof. In the fall of 2008, the $23 million Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball opened its doors as part of an expansion to Reed Arena.

Byrne made an impact in marketing Aggie Athletics. In January 2006, A&M awarded the school’s athletic multimedia marketing rights for 10 years to a joint venture of Learfield Communications, ISP Sports, and FSN Southwest – known collectively as Texas A&M Sports Properties. The agreement is one of the top multimedia rights contracts in the country and provides significant income for A&M athletics throughout the length of the agreement.

Byrne tabbed the guaranteed revenue from the Learfield agreement to finance the department's video screen and ribbon board expansion project which included Kyle Field, Reed Arena, and a portable video screen mounted on a 53-foot trailer. He also expanded the department's television production operation, 12th Man Productions.

Increased attendance at home contests has also been aided by the creation of a fan rewards program for frequent attendance. The 12th Man Team Rewards Program is a fan-loyalty program that allows A&M’s Athletic Department to thank their most dedicated fans’ continued support and attendance at the school’s home athletic events. Upon its inception in 2003, attendance records at A&M were immediately shattered. Each sport offered at A&M has set at least one new school attendance record.[citation needed]

While at A&M, Byrne hired 12 head coaches in nine sports. Each hire achieved postseason competition within their first two seasons.[citation needed] In the Fall of 2010, 249 student-athletes were named to the Big 12 Commissioners Honor Roll. During the Spring of 2011, 269 student-athletes earned mention on the commissioner’s honor roll.

Awards[edit]

Throughout his career, Byrne has been recognized with the highest awards an athletics administrator can receive. Among his many accolades, honors include the U.S. Sports Academy 2007 Carl Maddox Sports Management Award; the 2002 National Football Foundation John L. Toner Award; the 1999 Central Region National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Director of the Year; president of NACDA in 1991-92; and the National Athletic Fundraisers Association Fundraiser of the Year in 1985.

Background[edit]

Byrne is a 1967 graduate of Idaho State University, where he also served as student body president. He earned an MBA in 1971.

Byrne’s wife of more than 40 years is Dr. Marilyn Kent Byrne, who has expertise in leadership development, team building, and executive coaching. The Byrnes have two sons – Bill III and Greg. Bill is a vice president of Visa USA in San Francisco, and Greg is the current director of athletics at the University of Arizona. Greg and his wife Regina live in Tucson, Arizona, with their sons Nicholas and Davis.

Previous employment[edit]

Honors[edit]

Championships[edit]

As an NCAA Division I athletic director

National Championships: 30 [6]
Conference championships: 143

[7] [8] [9]

At Texas A&M 2003–2012

National Championships: 17 [10]
Conference Championships: 44 [11] [12] [13]

At Nebraska 1992-2002

National Championships: 10
Conference championships: 83

At Oregon 1984-1992

National Championships: 3
Conference championships: 16

References[edit]