The Texas A&M University – Texarkana Eagles will begin play as the 13th member of the Red River Athletic Conference Fall of 2016.
Texas A&M University-Texarkana will become the Red River Athletic Conference’s 13th member institution, effective immediately and beginning conference play in the fall of 2016. TAMUT was unanimously approved by current RRAC presidents and athletic directors last month and officially announced June 13 by the conference.
When TAMUT decided to launch its athletics program, the university hired a familiar face to the RRAC. Michael Galvan, who earned three RRAC Athletic Director of the Year awards while at University of the Southwest, was hired as TAMUT’s athletic director. Galvan and his team built the Eagles program from scratch and gained admittance into the NAIA. They’ve been on a fast track to fortify the program and add sports since.
“We’re excited to welcome Texas A&M University-Texarkana to the RRAC,” proclaimed RRAC Commissioner Tony Stigliano. “Michael Galvan showed great leadership previously in our conference and he has exhibited the same trait while developing TAMUT’s athletic program. The Eagles’ teams will be competitive on day one and they will continue to grow. We look forward to working with TAMUT President Dr. Emily Cutrer, Michael and their coaches.”
TAMUT teams in women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis first took the field in the fall of 2014. Baseball was added a year later and men’s soccer will be a new program this year. Prior to this year, the Eagles competed in the NAIA’s Association of Independent Institutions.
“Texas A&M University-Texarkana is excited to be accepted into the RRAC with institutions who value the balance of a quality education and competitive intercollegiate athletics,” Galvan stated. “We hope to enter the league and be competitive among the sports we offer.
“The future here at TAMUT is bright, and our strategic plan has us growing as an institution. As the institution grows, so do our athletic offerings. A special thank you to Commissioner Stigliano, the presidents of the RRAC and the athletic directors who see TAMUT as an added value to the conference.”
The Eagles have already experienced some breakthroughs nationally. The women’s soccer team qualified for the Aii Tournament in its second year, and they have compiled a 20-8-4 record in their first two seasons. Two men’s tennis players reached the small college championships in 2015. And last month, TAMUT’s tennis teams reached the NAIA regional tournament, while the baseball team reached the Aii Tournament and qualified for the NAIA Baseball National Championship opening round in their first season. They reached the semifinals and finished with a 33-20 record.
The Eagles’ coaching staff includes former USW head coach Don Koontz, who now leads TAMUT’s soccer teams. Steve Jones, who has more than 500 career victories, is the head coach for baseball, and Billy Power is head coach for men’s and women’s tennis. Power is also the director of tennis at Texarkana Country Club and Northridge Country Club.
Facility development has been key to establishing the program. TAMUT created an on-campus artificial turf soccer field with lights in October 2014. The baseball team plays at nearby George Dobson Field at Spring Lake Park, a city-owned facility, and the tennis teams play at Northridge Country Club. On June 7, TAMUT broke ground on a new recreation center and training facility that will open in August 2017.