Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne made his retirement official today at a press conference in College Station. Calling his 10-year run “an incredible journey,” Byrne said he will take on a the role of special advisor to the A&M president R. Bowen Loftin as of today.
One wonders just how much advice Loftin will actually seek from a man he’s pushing out the door. As we suggested this morning, Byrne announced that he will indeed retire in full at the end of August, gone by football season as expected. He will then receive a settlement “equal to the present value of the last year of his contract” which runs through the end of August in 2013.
Associate AD John Thornton will take over as the Aggies’ interim AD until Lofton can land a replacement. A&M’s president called the divorce amicable, adding: “It’s no secret Bill and I haven’t seen eye-to-eye on various issues.”
The main issue being Texas A&M’s jump from the Big 12 to the SEC. Byrne said he had no role whatsoever in that decision (or in the hiring of football coach Kevin Sumlin, for that matter). ”Those are decisions made above my pay grade,” he said. ”You’re taught to salute and carry on and that’s what we’ll do.”
Loftin said of the SEC decision: “His input was sought. It was never ignored… The decision was ultimately mine.”
In the end, Byrne oversaw dozens of Big 12 titles and 17 national crowns during his tenure. None of those came in football, however. If they had, he might not have been forced into retirement. ”The one thing I wish we would’ve done is win more in football,” he said.
Aggies everywhere no doubt nodded in agreement.