Memorial Services planned for 4 p.m. on July 13 at First Christian Church
If the Double T of Texas Tech had a face it might look like Gerald Myers.
A student and athlete in the 1950s, a basketball coach in the '70s, '80s and '90s, and an administrator in the new millennium, Myers has spent nearly 50 years at Tech.
Myers took over an athletic department in 1996 that was hit hard by an NCAA investigation. The penalties caused several programs to lose scholarships, post-season berths were put on hold and the university has been getting untracked ever since.
In 2004, Tech was one of only four schools to earn a berth in the NCAA postseason for four major sports -- football, men's and women's basketball and baseball. Half of those coaches (Mike Leach and Bob Knight) were hired by Myers. Additionally, Tech was the only school in the country during the 2004-05 academic year to win a bowl game and send both basketball programs to the round of sixteen in the NCAA Tournament.
Football and men's basketball, though, aren't the only sports enjoying success with a coach hired by Myers. Wes Kittley's track and field squad won the men's Big 12 Conference Championship and had a record number of men and women track and field athletes (31) compete at the 2005 Championships. Tim Siegel guided the men's tennis team to its first NCAA Championships appearance in school history after hosting first- and second-round matches for the first time in 2005. The men's golf team, led by fifth-year coach Greg Sands, reached the NCAA Championships in 2006, the second time he has done so during his brief tenure. Sands has brought the Raiders to the regional tournament in his other three seasons, including 2005. Additionally, the team's 2002 appearance was the first in 26 years. Stacey Totman, head coach of the women's golf team, led the Lady Raiders to the regional tournament in her first season four years ago, and they made a return trip in 2005.
Leach has guided the Raiders to bowl games in six consecutive seasons and for the first time in school history. Knight guided Tech to its fourth-consecutive season with at least 20 victories in 2005 and Hall of Fame women's basketball coach Marsha Sharp led the Lady Raiders to NCAA appearances in each of Myers' years as athletics director. Upon Sharp's resignation in March, Myers brought in one of the nation's finest young coaching talents in Kristy Curry.
Revenue also has seen a dramatic increase under Myers. The annual operating budget for the Athletics Department has grown from $9 million in 1996 to $42 million in 2006.
Tech's increase in revenue under Myers has allowed the university to make renovations to Jones AT&T Stadium as well as build the Marsha Sharp Center for Student-Athletes.
The success of Tech, though, isn't just in wins and losses or dollars and cents. Tech's success is seen arguably where it counts most -- the classroom. While Myers might not directly impact whether a student graduates, his support has led to an increase in Tech's graduation rates.
Before adopting a new policy, which will involve looking at grades more frequently, the NCAA took its graduation rates in six-year intervals. In the year prior to Myers' first year as AD, 44 percent of Tech athletes graduated (freshman scholarship athletes only). In Myers' first year, which included a lot of transfers leaving the university because Tech was on probation, Tech's number was still higher (56 percent). The student body graduation rate at Tech is 52 percent, meaning athletes are graduating at a higher percentage than the overall student body.
The football team's graduation rates for the 2000-01 freshman class ranked Tech among the best in the country (79 percent).
Myers' success at Tech also has led to national recognition and responsibilities. He served on the NCAA golf committee, was a past president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, and finished a two-appointment on the men's basketball selection committee.
Myers also has been recognized by the All-American Football Foundation, which presented him on Thursday with the Gen. Robert R. Neyland Outstanding Athletic Director Award. The NABC honored Myers at the Final Four in San Antonio with the Metropolitan Award for his contributions to college basketball.
Myers, the winningest men's basketball coach in Texas Tech history, served as Red Raider head basketball coach for 20 years (1971-91). After taking over midway through the 1970-71 season, he posted a 326-261 record and led the Red Raiders to 16 winning records, two conference championships and four NCAA Tournament berths.
Myers also earned three letters as a member of the Texas Tech basketball team from 1956-59. His 86.9 free throw percentage in 1957-58 is still second best on the all-time Texas Tech career charts.
He earned his degree in education from Texas Tech in 1959 and a Master's Degree from Tech in 1965.
A native of Borger, Texas, Myers coached at Lubbock Monterey High School and Houston Baptist before returning to Texas Tech in 1970 as an assistant coach.
Myers is a member of the Texas Tech Athletic Hall of Honor, the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame and the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame.
He and his wife, Carol, have a daughter, Laurie McKee, and two grandsons, Matthew and Connor.
Thanks to Jeff Walker, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.