Bill Byrne
Director of Athletics

Letters, we get letters. Let’s answer the most asked question I can recall receiving in recent years. We are receiving endless questions on the future of Kyle Field. There are so many rumors about what may or may not happen with Kyle Field, it’s like a flavor of the day.

Today, Texas A&M University and the 12th Man Foundation announced one of the world’s leading sports facility design firms, Populous, has been brought on board to lead the study phase for the renovation and redevelopment of Kyle Field.

They are the latest addition to an ongoing study to provide information to our University leadership on the future of Kyle Field. The earliest we will likely have any information to share with you will be this fall, while the earliest we would see any comprehensive construction would be after the 2013 football season.

Those who come to the Maroon and White Spring Football Game presented by Wells Fargo on April 28 will notice some routine maintenance work being done at Kyle Field.

If you have been disappointed in the lack of bat news, here you go. Those with keen eyes will notice some bat netting in the lower level of the Zone. We saw what Oklahoma State had done to protect their new facilities, and we are trying to see if this netting will work at our stadium. It’s not cheap. The one section we did was $80,000. To do the entire zone will be an additional $300,000-$400,000. If we can keep the critters out, it will be worth it.

***
I went to spring football practice the other day and made the mistake of standing too close to the speakers. I suddenly realized my taste in music has changed from what today’s young people like. My habit has been to watch practice from the north endzone, but, in the future, I will be moving to the south endzone which is 100 yards from the speakers.

We are having fast paced, up-tempo practices. I saw the receivers catching tennis balls from a machine that fires the balls at them. It’s an interesting concept that will hopefully result in fewer dropped passes next fall.

I also love the new wind screens around the practice fields. They look great! However, the uniqueness of the first visible SEC logo on campus has created a dangerous situation. Some of you are stopping your vehicle on Wellborn Road and getting your photo made with the wind screens. We strongly encourage folks to please use a safer method.

Remember spring practices are closed to the public except for scrimmages scheduled for April 14, 20, and 28. This Saturday the scrimmage starts at 11 a.m. For more details, click here.

Make plans to attend the Maroon and White Spring Football Game presented by Wells Fargo on Saturday, April 28 at 1 p.m. The cost will be $5 and all college-aged students and younger will be admitted free. Click here to purchase your ticket and avoid the walk-up ticket-buying lines on game day.

We have exclusive reports from every practice and scrimmage via 12thManTV on AggieAthletics.com.

***
Our baseball team is ranked No. 2 nationally this week which is the highest we’ve been ranked since the 2009 season. We’ve won 12 of our last 14 games, including five of the last six. We are 7-2 in the Big 12 and in second place.

I had a great weekend attending our series against Oklahoma at Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park. I still get a great big smile when I walk in to Blue Bell Park. I’m certainly not the only one, because I’ve seen literally hundreds of people getting their pictures taken out front of the ball park. In fact, I’ve volunteered to click their camera a few times so the whole family can be in the photo. Couple the excitement of our fans with what is a very good baseball team, and it makes spending time at Blue Bell Park a terrific experience.

We continue to receive a ton of positive comments regarding the large variety and high quality of our concession offerings at Blue Bell Park including the rib and wing basket, chipotle chicken sandwich, and hand dipped Blue Bell ice cream. We knew our fans would enjoy ice cream at the ball park, but we had no idea how much. Now we do.

Based on sales, we have served a total of 20,388 scoops of ice cream at Blue Bell Park. That equates to 1,020 gallons of ice cream this season. 

This weekend our team is in Lawrence, Kan., to play the Jayhawks. Next Tuesday we return home to host Rice at 6:35 p.m.

***
Softball took two of three games from Iowa State on the road last weekend. Anytime you win a series on the road, that’s good for us. Last night, we won 3-0 at No. 23 Baylor to improve our record to 28-11 overall and to 8-3 in the league. After a couple of weeks on the road, Coach Jo Evans and our No. 14 team return to the Aggie Softball Complex for a big series with No. 6 Oklahoma. Game one of the three-game series starts at 7 p.m. on Friday. I hope we have the same success on the softball field against the Sooners as we did last week on the baseball diamond.

You can purchase tickets for all three games in advance by clicking here.

***
Our track and field teams set more records at the Oregon Pepsi Team Invitational last Saturday. The men finished as the runner-up, while the women were third. I would have loved to have been in Eugene dressed in my parka and mukluks. The weather was in the 40’s with the wind blowing. But come to think of it I’ve been enjoying our 80 degree days and 60 degree nights here in College Station.

We won 12 events, while Donique' Flemings and Prezel Hardy, Jr. had double wins on the day. School records were set by Henry Lelei and Natosha Rogers.

Donique’ won the 100 hurdles in a windy 13.13 and then won the 400 hurdles with a career best of 57.76, which ranks No. 4 all-time at A&M. Prezel, who anchored our 4 x 100 to a 39.40 win, swept the sprint double with times of 10.32 and 20.60. Henry ran his first 3,000-meter steeplechase for us in a school record time of 8:45.80.

Meanwhile, Natosha set her ninth school record this season with a 15:45.80 finish in the 5,000-meter race.

This Saturday, we are at the Miami Hurricane Alumni Invitational.

***
The tennis season is rolling along and I’m proud of the way our men’s and women’s teams have been playing. While we have been outscored in a few matches the last week or so, the final score could have gone in our favor a couple of times.

New women’s coach Howard Joffe has our team ranked No. 20, while junior Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar moved up two spots to No. 5 nationally. Cristina is the highest ranked singles player in school history, and is the highest ranked player in the Big 12 this season.

Our women host their final two regular season home matches over the next week with Texas Tech on Friday at 6 p.m. before senior night during the State Farm Lone Star Showdown on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, our men are ranked No. 27 and will play in the State Farm Lone Star Showdown in the state capital on Saturday at 6 p.m. The regular season ends on our courts next Wednesday when we host No. 28 Baylor at 6 p.m.

We will be hosting the 2012 Big 12 Tennis Championships April 26-29. Tickets are available by clicking here.

***
Our No. 2 nationally ranked equestrian team will be at the National Collegiate Equestrian Championships Thursday in Waco. Our three-time defending champion western team is the top seed and will face either Fresno State or New Mexico State in the quarterfinal round. Meanwhile, our seventh-seeded hunter seat squad will face 10th-seeded Fresno State in the first round.

***
Our No. 15 men’s golf team finished third at The All-American Intercollegiate at The East Course in The Woodlands, Texas earlier this week. Senior Geoff Shaw shot a 3-under 69 in the final round to win the tournament by two strokes. Geoff carded an 11-under 205 (69-67-69) for the week. He has finished 12th or better in three straight tournaments, and this week he recorded his first collegiate win.

Next, we host the Aggie Invitational on April 21 and 22 at Traditions Club in Bryan.

Meanwhile, our No. 11 women’s golf team is preparing for the 2012 Big 12 Championships which will happen at the end of the month in Lawrence, Kan.

***
Congratulations to our women’s basketball radio broadcast team for home games Mike Wright and Tap Bentz who recently received first place honors for Best Radio Sports Play-by-Play from the Texas Associated Press Broadcasters. In addition to his day job as Vice President and General Manager at KBTX-TV, Mike has been the voice of A&M women’s basketball for four seasons. Meanwhile, Tap Bentz just finished his 10th year as our home game analyst while serving as Proprietor of Outback Steakhouse in College Station.

***
We moved up to No. 9 in Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings. If our teams continue to do well, and I think they will, we have a good chance to finish in the top 10 again this year.

You can’t help but be very proud of what our student-athletes have done representing Texas A&M. We’ve gone from a program with very few teams ranked, to a program with almost all of our teams ranked. I hear from a few of you who say only one sport matters, but the majority of you are like me and believe all of our teams matter. When the maroon and white take the field, I want them to succeed and win championships, and I think you agree.

***
Gig’Em!