Dodds Announces Retirement

Tuesday, Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds confirmed rumors about his impending retirement, effective Aug. 31, 2014. Here's more on his decision, and where Texas goes from here.

As DeLoss Dodds sat down in the Centennial Room of Bellmont Hall Tuesday and prepared to confirm the report that he was stepping down, he took note of the sophisticated nature of the digital voice recorders strewn across the table in front of him.

"A lot has changed since 1981," Dodds joked.

Oh, how right he is. When Dodds became Texas athletics director, he took over a $4 million budget. Today, Dodds oversees a Longhorn athletics budget that has ballooned to an astronomical $170 million, the largest budget in collegiate athletics. The Longhorn Foundation itself — created early on under Dodds — has raised 100 times his original overall budget, coming in at $400 million.

But Dodds, 76, won't hold those reins for much longer. In an obviously emotional press conference Tuesday — Dodds was applauded by athletics staff after finishing his opening statement — he announced that the department would soon have a new leader.

"This is a big day for me. I've thought a lot about it," Dodds said. "Obviously, I'm going to step down Aug. 31, 2014."

When he does, the Longhorn athletics department will be without one of its longest mainstays, somebody who served as a mammoth presence across the national sports landscape.

"DeLoss Dodds is one of the giants of college athletics," said UT President Bill Powers. "His vision reshaped The University of Texas and the entire NCAA, and it's been an honor to both work with him and call him a friend for so many years.

"I know that we will never truly be able to replace DeLoss Dodds," Powers said. "But the house that he built will remain strong for future generations of Longhorns."

Shaping the Brand

Pick an area in which an athletics director should excel, and it's likely that Dodds has made an impact there.

"Survival," Dodds quipped, when asked about his greatest accomplishment.

Fundraising? Texas used to raise about $250,000 per year through its various booster clubs. In 1986, Dodds helped to create the Longhorn Foundation, which raised money for all sports. In its first year, the Foundation raised $1 million, quadrupling the previous output. The foundation now has more than 13,000 donors and has raised more than $400 million.

Facility upgrades? Under Dodds, Texas invested almost $400 million to renovate or build facilities. That includes a bevy of updates to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, from the addition of more than 30,000 seats to aesthetic improvements like the addition of the memorial plaza and the giant scoreboard affectionately known as "Godzillatron" and the building of the W. A. "Tex" Moncrief, Jr.–V. F. "Doc" Neuhaus Athletic Center, which currently houses the football coaches, team and athletic and academic facilities.

And that's just football. Listing his facility accomplishments would take another whole story, but included among those that occurred during his time were a state-of-the-art basketball practice facility, a sparkling track stadium and a home golf course.

Being ahead of the curve? For better or worse, Dodds will forever be linked with the formation of the Longhorn Network, an innovative set of single-university programming that earned Texas a massive 20-year, $300-million deal with ESPN. Time Warner Cable recently came aboard, and the Network, while often blamed for creating instability and serving as a galvanizing force for unhappy Big 12 schools to jump ship for realignment, appears to be trending upward.

Speaking of conference realignment, Dodds was a strong-backed supporter of the Big 12, helping to put together the league as the Southwest Conference fell apart. And he helped to keep the league together when four teams — Texas A&M, Missouri, Colorado and Nebraska — jumped ship.

Ultimately, athletics directors are judged largely by their hires. And in football coach Mack Brown, basketball coach Rick Barnes and baseball coach Augie Garrido, the "big three" sports have experienced almost unprecedented levels of success. Brown's Longhorns won at least 10 games in 11 straight seasons, including a BCS National Championship in the 2005-2006 season. They went to BCS bowls in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009, winning three of them. Under Barnes, the basketball team went to 14 consecutive NCAA Tournaments, reaching three Elite Eights and the Final Four in 2003. Garrido has taken Texas to seven College World Series berths since 2000, taking home national titles in 2002 and 2005.

All told, men's sports teams won 14 national championships and 108 conference titles in Dodds's tenure, and he was named the 2005 and 2011 Athletic Director of the Year by Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily.

Moving Forward

Ironically enough, all three of those sports are currently considered in the midst of a downswing. Football hasn't won 10 games since reaching the BCS National Championship game after the 2009 season, and sits at a disappointing 2-2 record. Baseball not only missed the NCAA Tournament last year, but also failed to qualify for the Big 12 Tournament. And basketball missed the NCAA Tourney for the first time in Barnes's tenure in Austin, with the Longhorns falling in the first round of the CBI.

But Dodds said that didn't have anything to do with the timing of his announcement.

"We could be 4-0 in football and be sitting here doing this," Dodds said. "It's about doing it at the right time."

In fact, Dodds said that he began discussing his retirement with staff members in June.

"I love The University of Texas, and I love the people. We've had a great run," Dodds said. "I have been contemplating this decision for awhile. Bill Powers and I have talked it over, and this is something I am ready to do at this time."

While Dodds's timeline has him retiring just before the 2014 season, he would be available to help Texas in a consultant-type role until 2020, and he would slide into more of a supporting role when Texas hires his replacement. Dodds will be available to help with the search for the next men's athletics director, though it's unclear what role he'll play in the search process.

Powers said there will likely be a search committee, though he said that one hasn't been formed yet, and he added that nobody has, of yet, contacted Texas about the job. Neither has the university contacted any potential candidates, Powers added.

"We can do [the search] thoughtfully," Powers said about the advantage of having Dodds in place for the rest of the year. "Even though we will never be able to replace him, we will start a nationwide search, beginning today."

Dodds declined to address what would happen if Texas did need to hire new coaches before adding: "Anything this department does significantly over the next year needs to have the hand of the new person in on it."

In other words, don't expect Dodds to make decisions on any coaching replacements. And it will be difficult for the university to find an athletics director replacement to fit Dodds's oversized shoes. But even as that candidate — West Virginia athletics director Oliver Luck's name has been tossed around as a potential favorite, among others — will have to work around the shadow of Dodds's legend on the 40 Acres, he or she will also be uniquely set up for success as a result of advancements made during Dodds's tenure.

"I know that we will never truly be able to replace DeLoss Dodds," Powers said. "But the house that he built will remain strong for future generations of Longhorns."

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