Texas Tech’s former Director of Athletics T. Jones died on Tuesday at the age of 89. Jones served from 1985-93.
Jones was regarded as one of the top athletics directors in Texas Tech history. Appointed in 1985 to oversee the athletics department, Jones became the first person to head both men’s and women's programs.
Jones remained in this position for eight years before retiring in 1993.
Born as James Carroll Jones in 1931, Jones earned the nickname “T” while growing up in Childress. Jones earned a scholarship to the University of Texas, where he played quarterback for the Longhorns. Jones led the Longhorns to the Southwest Conference title in 1952 while also earning All-SWC honors. Jones returned to his alma mater after two years as a military officer to join the Texas staff as an assistant coach under Ed Price and then Darrell Royal.
Jones left Texas as he entered the banking profession in 1969. He served as the Director of Marketing and Senior Vice President of City National Bank in Austin. Jones eventually returned to Texas in 1980 as Assistant Athletics Director.
Jones was promoted to Associate Athletics Director under DeLoss Dodds before being hired at Tech in 1985.
During his term at Tech, Jones was responsible for hiring two of the most successful head coaches in Tech sports history. One was Spike Dykes who went from defensive coordinator to head coach for Texas Tech football. Dykes led Texas Tech to 82 wins and six bowl appearances, including the 1995 Cotton Bowl against USC. He also hired Larry Hays as head coach for Texas Tech baseball in 1987. Hays ranks sixth all-time in NCAA history with 1,508 wins during his career.
Tech also experienced success in basketball during Jones' term. Marsha Sharp built one of the top women’s basketball programs in the country which culminated in the 1993 NCAA title. It marked the first national championship for Tech in any team sport.
James Dickey led the comeback of the Red Raider men’s basketball program in 1991. Only into his second year as head coach, Dickey lead the Red Raiders to the NCAA Tournament. Dickey later coached several future Texas Tech Hall of Famers including Darvin Ham, Jason Sasser and Tony Battie over his 10 years leading the program.
In addition to several successful hires, Jones was also responsible for upgrading Tech’s athletic facilities. The most well-known is the construction of the Jones AT&T Stadium and the Athletic Training Center, known more frequently as “The Bubble.” However, in 2017, Tech opened a new training facility under the Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt.
Notably, Jones had a 10-and-a-half-foot tall statue of the original Masked Rider constructed in the lobby of the south end zone building, providing a welcoming area to guests and recruits.
Tech’s baseball stadium was formally renamed Dan Law Field in 1988 after Jones secured $300,000 in funding to install a professional lighting system. This allowed the Red Raiders to play their first night game in history. Tech added an Astro Turf surface two years later.
Jones built a reputation for successfully fundraising for facility projects over his career.
Jones was a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor as well as the Texas Tech Hall of Honor, where he was inducted in 2004.