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Sports Q&A: New Texas Wesleyan athletic director builds on success

Q&A: New Texas Wesleyan athletic director builds on success

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Ricky Dotson had already made a big impact on the Texas Wesleyan University athletic program. Now, as he enters his first school year as the athletic director, he is excited and ready to guide the program to even more heights.

Dotson took the reins of the job at the beginning of the summer. As associate A.D. in the last school year he oversaw the creation and execution of the Texas Wesleyan Football Game Day Experience, designed to enhance the student experience as the Rams brought the football program back after more than 75 years of being dormant.

Rams football brought new excitement to a campus already known for bringing plenty of thrills to its sports fans, and the Game Day Experience was a highlight.

Prior to being named the associate A.D., Dotson coached the Rams men’s golf team for five years, continuing the long tradition of national renown, including a runner-up finish at the 2013 NAIA Championships and a fourth-place finish in 2016. Previously, he amassed two decades of experience in coaching, administration, media relations and faculty positions.

Dotson is from Austin, where his father was an assistant basketball coach at the University of Texas for several years, and he spent most of his childhood there. He graduated from Corsicana High School and went back to Austin and UT for college. He stayed and got his master’s degree from UT as well.

Dotson, who just turned 51, said working at Texas Wesleyan invigorates him, making him still feel like a kid.

What are your major goals for Texas Wesleyan going forward?

First and foremost, Texas Wesleyan and the athletic department want to provide the best student experience possible, and we want to excel in preparing our students for life after college. Through athletics, that can be done in a number of ways, and I plan to do everything I can to make sure our student-athletes walk away from Texas Wesleyan with a wealth of memorable experiences and the confidence to take on the world.

Can we expect any major changes in the sports program?

One of my goals is to forge a stronger connection to businesses and corporations as it relates to our student-athletes. We are forming a student-athlete leadership organization that will include a curriculum focused on helping our students integrate into the professional world after graduation. We hope to give our students a platform from which they can network with potential employers and hopefully gain internships and mentors. I feel strongly that the athletic department has a responsibility to help educate our students beyond the classroom and to help develop skills that they can take into professional careers.

Does your experience as golf coach help make you more open to equality across the board for all sports?

To a certain degree, my experience with golf gives me a unique perspective on the less visible sports in our department. I’ve always been a big believer in the department as a whole sharing in our successes. Ultimately, our teams represent Texas Wesleyan.

You have worked in a variety of positions. What will this allow you to bring to the job of A.D.?

My experience gives me an understanding of the needs and challenges from a variety of angles. I definitely identify with the coaches’s efforts to compete and manage their teams. I’ve spent several years as an administrator, so I’m completely aware of the university’s needs. I want our athletic department to continue to walk hand-in-hand with the mission of Texas Wesleyan to serve students. Our athletes are students first, and we want athletics to help create the best experience for them and our entire campus community.

What are your thoughts on Fort Worth’s connection with TWU?

I think one of Texas Wesleyan’s greatest assets is the city of Fort Worth. What a great place to live and to be a college student. We have incredible support from Fort Worth and the community embraces our university. You can look at the attendance of our football games from a year ago as an example of that. We have a very active Ram Club made up of alums and community leaders in the city. Additionally, our golf endowment committee is comprised of many generous individuals from the Fort Worth area who support our golf programs. My desire is to grow an even tighter bond with the community by establishing new partnerships and developing new relationships.

What do you think is the strongest asset of the Texas Wesleyan athletic program?

Without question our biggest asset is the people. I think you can say that about the entire university. The people I work with in the athletic department are off the charts, and they carry an unwavering passion for Texas Wesleyan and for the students they serve. We have coaches who could go to bigger schools and higher-profile positions, but they feel a bigger purpose at Texas Wesleyan.

What can be done to make the program even stronger?

I believe the addition of and improvement to our athletic facilities will make our programs stronger. We are already building an amazing 44,000-square-foot student center, the Nick & Lou Martin University Center, that will serve all of our students. Additional athletic facilities will create even more spaces for our students to thrive.

Would you like to see any sports added?

I would like to see some sports added, but we need to be strategic in what we do. A sport that is gaining momentum at the college level is wrestling, and in particular, women’s wrestling. The Sooner Athletic Conference [SAC] recently added wrestling for men as a championship sport and plans to make women’s wrestling a conference sport in the near future. So I think wrestling is a sport we will consider in the coming years.

Is Texas Wesleyan the best-kept sports secret in North Texas, or perhaps even the state?

I definitely think we are the best-kept secret in Texas. Look at our competitive successes over the last couple of years and I would put us up against anyone. Basketball (men) won a national championship in 2017, men’s golf was ranked No. 1 in the country for most of the year, women’s golf was ranked in the top five most of the year, our volleyball team made it to the national tournament, baseball and softball were both nationally ranked during the season, our first-year football program drew national attention, and table tennis continues to dominate their competition.

All of those accomplishments are to be applauded, but our teams and athletes were even better in the classroom. For the second consecutive year, we were the conference leader in the number of academic all-conference selections and our list of academic All-Americans grows each year. For the third straight year, we had the most student-athletes on the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Any additional thoughts?

I think Texas Wesleyan is a special place, and I’m honored to lead our athletic department. I’m excited to get started and see what the future brings.

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