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Special to The Sun—
LUBBOCK – Texas Tech Athletics mourns the loss of former Director of Athletics T. Jones, who is from Childress. He passed away Tuesday, Sept. 15 at the age of 89.
Regarded as one of the top athletics directors in school history, Jones was tabbed to oversee the athletics department in 1985, becoming the first person to head both the men’s and women’s programs in the process. He remained in the position for eight years before retiring in 1993.
Jones was responsible for hiring two of the most successful head coaches in school history during his tenure as he promoted Spike Dykes from defensive coordinator to head coach prior to the 1986 Independence Bowl and then convinced Larry Hays to leave crosstown Lubbock Christian University to lead the baseball program in 1987.
Both Dykes and Hays became legends in their own sports with the late Dykes leading the Red Raiders to 82 wins and six bowl appearances over his 13 full seasons. Hays, meanwhile, wrapped his 38-year career, including the final 22 seasons at Texas Tech, with 1,508 career victories, which still ranks sixth all-time in NCAA history.
Texas Tech also experienced success on the hardwood during Jones’ tenure as Marsha Sharp built one of the top women’s basketball programs in the country during that stretch, which culminated in the 1993 NCAA title. It marked the first national championship for Texas Tech in any team sport.
James Dickey, who was hired by Jones in 1991, led a resurgence of the Red Raider men’s basketball program at the same time, leading Texas Tech to the NCAA Tournament in only his second year. Dickey later coached several future Texas Tech Hall of Famers in 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 drastically upgrading Texas Tech’s athletic facilities during his tenure with the construction of the south end zone administrative offices to Jones AT&T Stadium as well as the Athletic Training Center, known more frequently as “The Bubble.” 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 perfect welcoming area to guests and recruits.
Texas 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, allowing the Red Raiders to play their first night game in history. Texas Tech added an Astro Turf surface two years later under Jones, who built a reputation for successfully fundraising for facility projects over his career.
Jones, born James Carroll Jones in 1931, earned the nickname “T.” early in life while growing up in Childress. He went on to earn a scholarship at the University of Texas where he quarterbacked the Longhorns to the Southwest Conference title in 1952 while earning All-SWC honors. He returned to his alma mater after two years as a military officer to join the Texas staff as an assistant coach under both Ed Price and then Darrell Royal.
Jones departed Texas following eight seasons for a stint in private business 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 until eventually returning to UT in 1980 as an assistant athletics director.
Jones was elevated to Associate Athletics Director under DeLoss Dodds before being hired at Texas Tech in 1985. He is a member of both the Longhorn Hall of Honor as well as the Texas Tech Hall of Honor, where he was inducted in 2004.