It’s been far too quiet in the halls of the Texas A&M Board of Regents lately, with not a lot going on, but on Sept. 3, 2014, the Regents gave acting Aggie Interim President Dr. Mark Hussey the authority to “negotiate and execute new employment contracts with three Aggie head coaches, as proposed by Director of Athletics Eric Hyman.” The three coaches whose contracts are extended include men’s basketball head coach, Billy Kennedy; women’s tennis coach Howard Joffe, and men’s golf coach J. T. Higgins.
The Aggies were the 2009 NCAA Men’s Golf National Champions and the golf team has “back-to-back top-5 final rankings from 2009-2011,” and seven consecutive NCAA championship competition appearances.
The Aggie women’s tennis team made it to the 2013 NCAA finals play and “Joffe’s teams have compiled a 66-17 record, and a 2013 SEC championship. Athletic director Eric Hyman noted, “Under Coach Joffe’s leadership, we are positioning Texas A&M for future success.”
Women’s swim coach Steve Bultman has been announced to have a contract extension through 2016, but Regent action was not required for his negotation. Texas A&M Athletics also noted, "In Bultman’s 15 seasons, the Aggies have never finished lower than second at a conference meet and own an eight-year streak of top 10 finishes at the NCAA Championships. Last season, Texas A&M matched its highest national finish ever with a fourth-place performance at the NCAA meet."
Of men’s basketball coach Billy Kennedy, Hyman said, “Our basketball program has made tremendous strides academically under Billy’s leadership, while he has also raised the overall on-court talent level of our student-athletes.” It’s a work in progress and it has not been easy for the Texas Aggies men’s basketball team and all the armchair power forwards who are tempted to comment on how the program is going, particularly during a building phase for the team, but you have to start somewhere.
Clearly, of all the contract extensions made today, the best plan that signals why Hyman is such a good AD for Texas A&M is the wisdom of Kennedy’s contract. it just made good sense to extend his contract by at least two years at this time because of the stability it lends to the program, by removing any potential doubt from the proverbially vocal alumni who often verbalize projections of imminent employment ending being “around the corner” if the team doesn’t come out of the gate like gangbusters, and stay there.
To recruit a winning program of stars from 5-A schools to join Texas A&M’s basketball program, any prospect must be convinced that they will be scouted and seen during their tenure to make it to the next level because, with few exceptions, they came to play professionally; at least that’s their dream. To assure the parents of the recruits, coaches and recruiters must stress that Texas A&M, and particularly Coach Kennedy, are committed to seeing their children to graduation. The NBA is thin in listings of Texas Aggies on their rosters, for now, but that won’t always be the case.
Especially in the years since Coach Kennedy has been in charge of the Aggie programs, he has remained steadfast in his commitment to treating his players with respect, and he’s provided an environment where they can learn the game, and to have the kind of academic support they need. Not only do the players attend classes, they graduate from Texas A&M. As Erin Borwn shared for 12thMan.com, Texas A&M Athletics shared recently:
Since Billy Kennedy has taken over as head coach, all but one of his seniors have received a diploma from Texas A&M. The lone senior not to graduate during Kennedy’s tenure, David Loubeau, is currently playing professionally with hopes of one day returning to Texas A&M to receive his diploma. Everywhere I’ve been, we’ve been able to graduate our guys, so it’s good to finally catch up here,” Kennedy said, “Most of these guys; their whole world is basketball, basketball, basketball, and academics is second; and for them to find a balance of both, and get it done, they don’t even realize how beneficial it is going to be for them.“
Today’s announcements of contract extensions for the non-football athletic divisions, it may be said, are financed by the success of all those who pay beyond astronomical premiums to root for the best fightin’ Texas Aggie team in the land each year, so proper thanks are due to all the generous donors to Aggie football as well as to the individual sports at Texas A&M. Locally, you can’t ask for any better fans to attend these non-football sports as those who fill up the bleachers, benches, arenas, fieldhouses and sidelines to yell.
Now, if Athletic Director Hyman will just do something about the graphics on the concourses of Reed Arena, that would be a trifecta. They're tearing up the concourse but what will happen with the walls? C'mon graphics! We need to show the SEC we belong. Right now, we look like a very nice, sterile hospital waiting room on those walls. Hopefully they’re already on that topic over there in AD headquarters. For now, the Aggies continue to be blessed with the leadership by example and practice of many high-caliber, quality individuals whose contracts were extended today. Well done, Texas A&M Board of Regents, in allowing Dr. Hussey to negotiate the contract extensions. This is the SEC. Gig 'em Aggies.