From TCU to rodeo: Bailey anchors Horned Frog sports

Ross Bailey (right) and Jill Miller help out reigning Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association bull riding champion Sage Kimzey in the Justin Boots Sportsmedicine facility at the recent Parker County Sheriff's Posse Rodeo in Weatherford.

Within a 24 hour span, Ross Bailey easily can find himself wearing a purple baseball cap and then a white Stetson.

He’s Texas Christian University’s senior associate athletics director for operations, which includes overseeing the school’s storied baseball program and Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, the Horned Frogs state-of-the-art home field.

In recent days, he has been in Omaha to help guide TCU’s baseball program as the Horned Frogs traveled to Nebraska for their fourth consecutive College World Series appearance.

But Bailey also loves the sport of rodeo. Also in recent days, he was behind the dusty bucking chutes at the Parker County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo in Weatherford to help administer sports medicine to banged up bull riders.

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Bailey wears more than one hat often. Earlier this month, for example, he was at TCU’s Lupton Stadium until about 3 a.m. following a Monday night game in which the Horned Frogs clinched the NCAA Fort Worth Regional title in route to earning the College World Series berth. He and the stadium crew worked way into the night to prepare the stadium for the NCAA Super Regional, which would come several days later and the Horned Frogs again would be the dominant team.

After working into the wee hours of that morning at TCU, Bailey put on his cowboy hat later that day and traveled to Weatherford to serve as athletic trainer during a Tuesday evening pro bull riding performance. He was part of Justin Sports Medicine team, which helped the rodeo athletes nurse their wounds throughout the evening in a small brick building near the chutes.

Bailey was recruited by the Justin Boots Sportsmedicine program more than three decades ago when he was in his early stage of serving as TCU’s athletic trainer. Over the years, he faithfully has worked local events including the Fort Worth Stock Show Rodeo.

“I grew up working on a ranch and saw that this was a good way to give back,” Bailey said of helping rodeo competitors. “You’re never going to be around a more appreciative group of athletes than the rodeo guys and gals. They’re so thankful for everything you are doing for them. It’s a family and it’s a great atmosphere. To me, it’s still some of the purest level of professional athletics. They’re paying their own money. If you don’t ride well, you don’t get paid. It’s something I’ll continue to do as long as I’m able. ”

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Bailey became head athletic trainer at TCU in the late 1970s after earning bachelors and master’s degrees at the school.

“When I first started at TCU there were not a lot of athletic trainers in the whole state of Texas,” he said. “They laugh and say some of us older guys have double or triple digits on our license. I’m one of those guys.”

Bailey served as the school’s head athletic trainer for 22 years. In the early 2000s, he became the university’s senior associate athletics director for operations. Today, he supervises TCU’s baseball, equestrian and rifle programs. He also supervises TCU’s sports medicine department, equipment room, video services, strength and development. If that’s not enough, he manages the game day operations for TCU football, basketball and baseball, while overseeing the development and construction of current facilities.

In other words, Bailey is an integral part of an overall team that deals with the architects, engineers and construction workers as TCU builds and upgrades its athletic facilities. For example, when TCU recently renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium for football, Schollmeier Arena for basketball and Lupton Stadium for baseball, Bailey was right in the middle of it.

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“I’m just nosey,” Bailey said. “I’ll stick my head and my hands in there and get my hands dirty.”

Chris Del Conte, TCU’s director of intercollegiate athletics, said Bailey is very versatile and much appreciated.

“Ross Bailey is Mr. TCU,” Del Conte said. “He’s actually Mr. Fort Worth when you think of what he does for the rodeo and what he does for us here. He’s phenomenal. He loves dirt. I mean my man likes to get his hands dirty. The greatest thing about Ross is no job is too small, whether it’s here, the rodeo or family. He’s a consummate gentleman. He’s an amazing older man who has the heart of a young man.”

Bailey, 63, said he’s grateful TCU has given him multi tasks, which began as the Horned Frogs’ athletic trainer in 1978.

“A strange set of circumstances occurred and it was like, ‘Tag, you’re it,’” Bailey said. “I’m forever grateful to [former TCU athletic director] Frank Windegger and [then football coach] F.A. Dry, because they gave a young guy a chance. Every time I’ve needed a new challenge in my life, somehow TCU has provided one. It may have been a little detour in my career path, but it was because I wanted to spread my wings and do something a little bit different.

“I’ve really enjoyed being involved in the construction side of things. That’s kind of reinvigorated me. In the last 15 years, since I’ve switched roles a little bit, I think we’ve done a little over $300 million in construction in our athletic department. That’s keeping us busy.”