After months of speculation, Texas A&M University has scheduled a press conference Tuesday at 12:30 to announce the retirement of athletic director Bill Byrne. The 67 year-old administrator took over a floundering athletic department 10 years ago with the football and basketball programs in flux.
During his tenure, Byrne made two critical hires in both men's and women's basketball that took arguably the worst basketball programs in a BCS conference and transformed both into perennial NCAA Tournament teams that culminated in a national championship for Gary Blair and the Lady Aggies.
Byrne also delivered national championships in men's golf and multiple titles in both men's and women's track teams. He also added 41 Big 12 titles to the trophy case as well.
However, Byrne struggled throughout his tenure to bring success and consistency to the most important sport, football. During his 10 year tenure at A&M, the football team never won a conference title and never participated in a BCS bowl game.
But despite his success on the field in all sports not named football, Byrne had his detractors. The athletic department ran into financial problems and did not properly monitor and manage it's books resulting in significant shortfalls. In addition, his abrupt, abrasive style alienated significant donors through the years that made it difficult to raise funds for large capital projects like the upcoming Kyle Field renovation that is estimated to cost over $600 million.
But it was the SEC realignment process over the past two years that may have strained relations between Byrne and President Bowen Loftin and the board of regents. Byrne had been a vocal supporter of staying with Texas in realignment talks, and publicly stating his lack of interest in joining the SEC despite the wishes and intentions of his superiors at the university.
Tuesday's press conference is expected to be an amicable retirement announcement and Byrne will likely stay on in an advisory capacity through the SEC transition this summer. It is expected that longtime assistant athletic director John Thornton will assume the interim athletic director duties while Texas A&M conducts a national search for Byrne's replacement.
Byrne Press Conference Scheduled
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