Websider Joins Scout.com

Websider.com, the premiere Texas A&M community on the internet, has joined the Scout.com network.

In 1994, IT programmer and Aggie sports and recruiting enthusiast Anthony Hooten decided to start his own web page on a revolutionary new medium called the Internet. The first of its kind in the early days of the Internet, Tony's Aggie Websider (Aggie insider news on the web) became a popular destination for fellow Aggie fans with a healthy appetite for inside recruiting news. In the day, your local newspaper, periodic newsletters, and 900-toll services were the only avenues for information. Tony brought those sources together and provided consolidated daily recruiting updates on his webpage for his fellow Aggies.

In 1996, the Internet was becoming an increasingly popular medium and information was being generated and discussed at a much faster pace. Message board communities began to thrive at this time, and Tony identified Alan Zepeda (AZ) and David Sandhop (Hop) as Texas A&M community leaders on the Internet who were knowledgeable and passionate about Texas A&M sports and particularly recruiting. Tony invited Zepeda and Sandhop to become major contributors to his popular webpage, and the Aggie Websider team was born.

As a strictly free and volunteer site, the Aggie Websider continued to flourish under the direction of the team with Tony providing most of the technical support and ingenuity, and Alan and David providing the content for the site. The Aggie Websider was the most popular spot on the Internet dedicated to Texas A&M sports and recruiting, and even hosted the initial message boards of what is now Texags.com.

However, with the popularity came added server costs and the team struggled to keep up with the financial burdens of maintaining a free site out of their own pockets. With the Websider team contemplating the website's future, loyal Aggies stepped forward and provided voluntary donations in the thousands of dollars to pay for the increased costs. It's this show of kindness and generosity of fellow Aggies that has to this day bound together many who were an integral part of the original Aggie Websider community in the early days.

In 1999, the site's popularity was at an all-time high, and costs continued to skyrocket. In addition, Tony took on a new career endeavor that would significantly limit his time to perform the daily technical functions and maintenance on the website. Thus, when approached by a fledgling sports and recruiting network called RivalsNetwork, the Websider team made the decision to join the network.

In 2001, RivalsNetwork went bankrupt and two new networks formed and the Aggie Websider signed with the group that later purchased the assets of the old network and became the current Rivals.com. The other network formed is now the current Scout.com.

The Aggie Websider had been a part of Rivals.com since 2001, and over the past six years the Aggie Websider has grown into the largest premium online service covering a wide range of Texas A&M sports topics with comprehensive recruiting coverage. During this time, the Aggie Websider founded a Texas high school website, now called TexasPrepInsider. Alan operated the site, which became one of the largest communities of registered users on the Rivals.com network, and the third largest premium community in the network's high school channel. The high school site is a valuable part of our business today.

The Aggie Websider is proud to announce that starting April 22, it will join the Scout.com network to run the Texas A&M site on Scout.com as well as the Texas high school site on the network.

With the move, the Aggie Websider will continue to flourish as an independent, autonomous entity with the support of the Scout.com network and its vast resources that will enhance our coverage of Aggie sports. The move also continues the proud 13-year legacy of the Aggie Websider which is the longest running website on the Internet dedicated to Texas A&M sports, and to its community of Texas Aggies.

Under Scout.com, the Aggie Websider community will see a new array of features and resources designed to further enhance the content value to our fellow Aggies. It is our pledge to deliver to you the best all-around coverage of Aggie sports, and we are building our staff to insure that you not only get the inside scoop on all the late breaking news, but that the quality of the articles and analysis will be insightful and thought-provoking. Quality will be just as important as quantity.

We have already hired one new member to our staff, Dallas Shipp (creator of 12th Man Magazine On Campus), and there will be more to come as we begin our new journey on Scout.com. We do ask that you please be patient with us as we get used to the new tools and features on the network. Until now, we have been solely focused on fulfilling our contractual obligations with Rivals.com. We are now in catch-up mode, but rest assured, we won't rest until we've added staff and built a network of partnerships that will result in the very best coverage for the Aggie Websider community. We are looking at new and innovative ways of providing interesting, timely, and accurate information to our A&M community, and we feel this new path with the support of Scout.com will give you reason to pull up a chair and stick around a while.

Also, it is our goal and mission to build a community of respect. Respect for our fellow Aggies and posters on our message boards. Respect for these athletes that entertain us every week. Respect for the athletic department and the coaching staff, and ultimately respect for the greatest university on the face of the earth – Texas A&M.

Thanks to everybody already on the site. Thanks to Beverly and Elizabeth for building such a classy site and community. We hope to live up to your legacy as good-will ambassadors for the community. We've heard nothing but great things from your community, and that relationship will be honored and respected.

For those long-time Websider members who have transitioned over out of loyalty and faith, we sincerely thank you and we are humbled. We will do everything in our power to make sure you feel this was a good move for you.

Finally, we want to say that we are not perfect and we'll never be perfect. However, we've occasionally stepped into some right decisions from time-to-time, and we've lived 13 years to tell about it. We feel this move is the best move for the Aggie Websider community at this time. The website will keep its editorial independence and its autonomy. We've built the longest-running and largest premium community on the Internet and we've been smart enough to hire the right people to do it over these years. We'll do it again, even bigger and better with the help of the Scout.com family who have been very supportive of our move.

We'll provide many details of what's to come in the next few days.

Thanks and gig'em!

Alan, David, Tony, and Dallas

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