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College stadiums: What's in a name?

Whether it's for benefactor or an honoree, Texas stadiums reveal for the ages {ellipsis}


11:25 PM CDT on Sunday, August 15, 2004


By KEITH WHITMIRE / The Dallas Morning News



TEXAS

Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium
Former Texas football coach Darrell Royal was concerned when UT officials said they wanted to meet with him but wouldn't say why.

"I thought it was some kind of serious problem," said Royal, who coached the Longhorns to three national championships.

It turns out the officials just wanted to ask Royal his permission to name the football stadium after him."I sat there stunned," Royal said. "I guess that's the ultimate for a coach."

Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium opened in 1924. It was originally known as Memorial Stadium in honor of the 198,520 Texans who served in World War I. In 1996, Royal's name was added to the stadium and the Memorial portion of the name was expanded to include veterans of all wars.

Royal is one of the few living people to have a stadium named after them. It can be a risky proposition if the honoree turns out to be not so honorable.

"I've stayed out of trouble for a long time," Royal said. "I think I'm beyond getting into trouble."

Then again, selling the naming rights is a risk, too. Remember Enron Field?

A number of college football stadiums are named after people. Like Royal, some are named after former coaches. Others are named for athletic directors and school presidents.

Often, a school shows its gratitude to a wealthy benefactor by naming the stadium after them. UT's stadium carries Royal's name but the field is named for Joe Jamail, a lawyer who once won a $10.53 billion judgment.

Fortunately for Royal, he didn't have to write a check to get his name on the stadium.

"They could get me by the heels and shake me all day," Royal joked, "and I couldn't give enough to stripe the field."

TEXAS A&M

Kyle Field
The Aggies' shrine is named after Edwin Jackson Kyle, an 1899 graduate of A&M. He was A&M's first dean of the School of Agriculture, a position he held from 1911-14.

Kyle's association with football began when he served as president of the school's athletic association from 1902 until he became dean.

Kyle was an early proponent of the study of agriculture in Texas. He wrote a textbook that was used for 30 years and his work in agriculture took him to Central and South America.

That led to an appointment as ambassador to Guatemala (1945-48). He died in 1963.

SMU

Gerald J. Ford Stadium
The name of SMU's Gerald J. Ford Stadium lends itself to confusion. It's not named after the 38th president – that's Gerald R. Ford.

And despite the SMU mascot being a Mustang, the stadium is not connected with the Ford Motor Company. That's Ford Field, where the Detroit Lions play. And Gerald R. Ford is from Michigan. Confused?

There's little confusion as to why the stadium is named after alumnus Gerald J. Ford, who made his fortune in banking. Ford donated the first $20 million toward building the facility which replaced outdated Ownby Stadium and allowed football to return to campus.

Until then, most SMU fans had probably never heard of the "other" Gerald Ford.

"At the very least," Ford once said, "it will spare my children the expense of a tombstone."

BAYLOR

Floyd Casey Stadium
For 39 years, Baylor's football home had been known as Baylor Stadium, and it stayed that way for half a game in November of 1988.

At halftime of the homecoming game, then-Baylor president Herbert Reynolds declared that from then on the stadium would be known as Floyd Casey Stadium.

Carl Casey, a Dallas businessman, and his wife, Thelma, gave $5 million to a campaign for stadium improvements. The stadium was renamed in honor of his deceased father, Floyd.

The longtime Baylor radio crew of Frank Fallon and John Morris did their best to adhere to the president's decree. In the first half, they called the game from Baylor Stadium. In the second half, they referred only to Floyd Casey Stadium.

"Frank and I were laughing at each other, trying to remember to call it Floyd Casey Stadium," Morris said. "We finally wrote a note and put it up in front of us. We had called it Baylor Stadium forever."

NORTH TEXAS

Fouts Field
Theron J. Fouts wore out a lot of whistles. He coached just about every sport before becoming athletic director.

Fouts coached football (1920-24), basketball (1920-21), track and field (1921-28) and golf for an undetermined period before becoming athletic director.

Fouts led the football team to a 7-1 record in 1920 and finished with a 23-14-2 career record. The basketball team went 5-3 in his only season coaching it.

Fouts initiated the campaign to build the stadium, which opened in 1952 as Eagle Stadium. It was renamed in his honor after his retirement in 1954.

TCU

Amon G. Carter Stadium
Amon G. Carter was Fort Worth's biggest booster.

Carter consolidated two newspapers and became publisher of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He pioneered broadcasting in the region with the founding of a radio station, WBAP, and what is now KXAS on television.

Carter also brought aviation to the area and convinced a number of oilmen to move to Fort Worth. Carter was also an avid collector of art of the Old West.

He wasn't much of a fan of Dallas, though. Carter referred to Dallas as part of East Texas and refused to spend a dime in Dallas restaurants. Whenever he had business in Dallas, Carter would bring a sack lunch.

TCU Stadium, which was built in 1929, was renamed for Carter in 1951. In 2003, the field was named in honor of TCU benefactors W. A. Monty and Tex Moncrief.

Carter's ties aren't only to TCU. He was the first chairman of Texas Tech's board of directors and donated the famous Will Rogers statue on the Lubbock campus.

TEXAS TECH

Jones SBC Stadium
Clifford Jones was the third president of Texas Tech. When the stadium was named for him and his wife during the last game of the season in 1947, it was the Clifford B. and Audrey Jones Stadium.

Although he was school president from 1939-44, Jones' background was in business, not academics. He supervised the dispersal and sale of property for the Spur Ranch from 1913-39 and was a banker.

Jones, who died in 1972, gave $100,000 of the $400,000 required to build the stadium, which was seen as a major boost to Tech's efforts to join the Southwest Conference. The Red Raiders played in the Border Conference at the time.

In 2000, SBC Communications gave $20 million to help fund a facelift for the stadium and got its name added to the facility.

HOUSTON

O'Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium
It was originally known as Houston Public School Stadium when it was built in 1941 as a joint project of the Houston ISD and the Works Progress Administration. It was renamed Jeppesen Stadium in 1958 and was the original home of the Houston Oilers.

The University of Houston bought the stadium in 1970. The school renamed it in 1980 after longtime benefactor and athletics booster Corbin J. Robertson, whose oil-rich family has given more than $100 million to UH over the years.

A $6 million donation by Houston trial attorney John O'Quinn allowed UH football to return to Robertson Stadium full time in 1998 after playing most of its games at the Astrodome. The field was named for him in 1999.

RICE

Rice Stadium
Rice Stadium is named after the university, not school founder William Marsh Rice. When it was built in 1950, some people called it Houston Stadium, after university president William Vermillion Houston (pronounced HOW-stun).

Although the unofficial name never caught on, Houston Stadium would have been appropriate for a school with a brainy reputation. Houston, president from 1947-61, was a pioneer in the fields of atomic spectroscopy and solid state theory.

STEPHEN F. AUSTIN

Homer Bryce Stadium
Homer L. Bryce made a lot of bricks in his lifetime after founding Henderson Clay Products. The structure he was no doubt proudest of was the football stadium in Nacogdoches that bears his name.

Bryce ran track at SFA when he was a student there in the 1930s. He served on the board of regents and was a major benefactor of the school until he died in 1996. Lumberjack Stadium was renamed for him in 1986.

SAM HOUSTON STATE

Bowers Stadium
Pritchett Field, the old stone stadium in Huntsville, wouldn't do if Sam Houston State wanted to move up from Division II status. Elliott T. Bowers, who served as school president for 20 years, played a major role in getting the new stadium built.

It was named for him when it opened in 1986. The Bearkats moved up to I-AA the following year.

WEST TEXAS A&M

Kimbrough Memorial Stadium
Then-U.S. Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson attended the grand opening of the Buffalo Bowl in 1959. It was renamed for longtime coach and athletic director Frank Kimbrough in 1971.

TEXAS STATE-SAN MARCOS

Bobcat Stadium/Wacker Field
The field was named in honor of former Bobcats coach and athletic director Jim Wacker last fall. Wacker, who died of cancer last August, coached the school then known as Southwest Texas State to NCAA Division II national championships in 1981 and 1982.
08-20-2004 11:22 AM
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