Football championship win ripples across university

Joseph Miller, Staff Reporter

A recent picture shows the dedication of the football field at Memorial Stadium to the late Ernest Hawkins. East Texan Photo | Joseph Miller

Joseph Miller | Staff Reporter

National football success affects the entire campus at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Shortly after the Spring 2018 semester began and a short time after winning the NCAA Division II Football Championship, Lions Athletic Director Tim McMurray shared his thoughts and views about the recent accomplishment of the Athletics program.

McMurray has a mindset and outlook that many people may not expect from an Athletic Director that recently won a National Championship. McMurray has an inclusive view that bonds the university and athletics, not a divisive or stand-alone entity.

“It may be a tired and overused saying, but athletics is the front porch of the institution.” McMurray said. “It’s not the most important, but we are often the most visible.”

McMurray referenced the 10,120 people in attendance at Ernest Hawkins Memorial Stadium on Dec. 9 as an example of how the program can draw eyes to the university.

“If we are that front porch, hopefully what we have done is get people on that front porch to look in the window.” McMurray said.

When this happens. McMurray believes people will like what they see.

“In the window you see top flight School of Business, top flight College of Engineering, top flight humanities, arts, social sciences, schools of agriculture and education.” McMurray said. “All top flight.”

When telling the story of the recent success, McMurray is keen and intent on relating the impact that the Athletic program has.

“We directly impact 724 kids being here. That’s a little over 10 percent of our undergraduate enrollment.” McMurray said.

The success of the Athletics program helps contribute to the growth of A&M-Commerce.

“There are 97 kids in football that are paying their own way, financial aid, or somebody is paying A&M-Commerce for them to go to school here, and they wouldn’t be here without football.” McMurray stated.

This is not just true of the football program, this has impact of the other sports as well.

“Track and Field has the equivalent of 16or 17 NCAA equivalents (scholarships) and we have a total of 114 kids in our Track and Field program.” McMurray said.

In addition to attracting new students to campus, athletic success has generated considerable revenue for the university.

“There is a net tuition fees and revenue gained in this institution from football alone of $988,000, and $ 1.2 million from athletics overall.” McMurray stated.

McMurray hopes that these are the kinds of things that are drawing people to the “front porch” to look in the window.

“That starts to tell a little bit, before we even talk about media coverage and exposure we would have never gotten. Like being on ESPN 3 or ESPN 2 for three hours.” McMurray said.

McMurray also highlighted the special relationship that exists between the band and the Athletic Department.

“I was blown away that they did that for me, there is a reason I keep that.” McMurray said beaming and pointing to a framed picture of the marching band in formation during a halftime performance.

“I believe this, the marching band improves the football, the pep band improves the basketball game day atmosphere.” McMurray said.

McMurray mentioned attending the band’s performance when the marching band was the highlight band at the University Interscholastic League (UIL) 6A State Marching Band Contest at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio.

“I thought it would send a strong statement, that we value them beyond playing at football or basketball games.” McMurray said. “I say even though we have lost a couple of football games over the past couple of years, we still have never lost a halftime.” McMurray said.

With continuing athletic success, McMurray and the Athletic Department is striving to make sure that it is not the only focus.

“I hope and am working diligently to help it (the Athletic Department) tell the institution’s story.” McMurray said proudly.