Tag Archives: J. Patrick O’Brien

Hallmark takes himself out of WT running? Not so fast



I just read in the paper this morning that James Hallmark, recently selected by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents to be West Texas A&M’s interim president is a member of the search committee looking for a permanent WT president.

The search team will seek to replace J. Patrick O’Brien who announced his retirement effective at the end of the current academic year, which is when Hallmark takes over the helm on an interim basis.

Thus, the story said, Hallmark won’t be a candidate for the permanent post.

That would seem to shoot down a theory I posted yesterday that regents had found their WT head man when they selected Hallmark as the interim. It means Hallmark will return to WT — where he served previously as provost/vice president for academic affairs before becoming vice chancellor for the A&M System.

See earlier post here.

But let’s hold on a moment.

I’ll take you back now about 16 years to the time when a certain Texas governor was about to sew up the Republican nomination for president of the United States.

George W. Bush called on his good friend — Dallas businessman Dick Cheney, the former defense secretary in Bush 41’s administration — to look for a vice presidential running mate.

Cheney and his search team looked high and low — supposedly — for the right candidate to run with W in the fall campaign against Vice President Albert Gore Jr.

Then, by golly something weird happened.

Gov. Bush chose Cheney! They went on to win the election and, as they say, the rest is, uhh, history.

So, you see, recent precedent has been set right here in Texas.

Is Hallmark, a man perfectly suited to lead the WT campus, really and truly out of the picture as the permanent president of the Canyon school?

I’m not taking that bait … just yet.


Welcome back, James Hallmark


If I were a betting man — and I’m not; heck, I don’t even play the lottery — I would wager that Texas A&M University System has just installed the next president of its campus in Canyon.

Here’s how it goes.

The A&M University System Board of Regents has named James Hallmark as the interim president of West Texas A&M University, effective upon the upcoming retirement of Pat O’Brien.

Interesting, yes? Sure it is.

Why? Because Hallmark just recently — I think it was a year or two ago — moved from the Panhandle to take an administrative post at the A&M “mother ship” campus in College Station.

Hallmark had served as provost and vice president for academic affairs at WT before he left for College Station to assume a vice chancellor post at A&M.

Now he’s coming back to become the “interim” head man at WT.

My strong hunch is that the regents might go through some kind of perfunctory search for a permanent president. It just looks for all the world, though, that they’ve found their man.

Is it a good thing? That depends. I don’t know Hallmark well, but I do know of his reputation, which my understanding is that it’s quite stellar.

My preference would be for regents to conduct a real national search to find a WT president and if Hallmark is one of the applicants and he competes with others, then he — and the school — are strengthened if he demonstrates an ability to lead the campus.

Then the system regents can ratify their decision to send them back to WT to take the reins of a growing university.


WT set for crucial season opener

Few times in the football history of West Texas A&M University has an opening game had as much significance as the game that’s coming up Sept. 12 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

The Buffs will take the field against Chadron State. They will have to deal with the shadow of a man who’s no longer a part of the program. Former Coach Don Carthel got canned two weeks ago over an ethics violation.

The interim coach this year will be Mike Nesbitt, who I believe could be an early-season favorite for Division II national coach of the year if he holds his team together.

Carthel’s firing couldn’t have come at a worse time. The team was finishing its preparation for a season most observers believed — maybe they still do — would be full of glory for the Buffs. I’m still uncertain as to whether the violation rose to the level of punishment that WT’s athletic department levied against Carthel. The coach took players to a baseball game, received reimbursement from the athletes and then fibbed about the timing of the reimbursement.

Boom! Like that he was gone. What’s done is done.

Nesbitt has taken over. He’s saying all the right things to local media, about how his team is “focused” and is getting ready for the season — as if he’s going to say anything to the contrary. You never hear coaches talk of turmoil upsetting team chemistry or causing emotional heartache. The stated public view is always the same: We’re soldiering on.

So we’ll see in short order whether the Buffs are as focused and dedicated to the task at hand as their coaching staff is saying. Texas A&M-Commerce comes to Kimbrough Stadium on Sept. 21 to begin the Lone Star Conference season.

The WT brass still has some explaining to do regarding Carthel’s firing. I hope it comes clean. Meanwhile, the players and the coaches who remain deserve the support of a fan base that had returned to the Buffs’ side when Carthel’s teams began winning so many football games.

Carthel kinda/sorta had it coming at WT

I’ve returned from the proverbial “temple,” where I’ve been pondering the stunning firing this week of West Texas A&M University head football coach Don Carthel.

I have concluded — for the time being — that Carthel had it coming.

He went to a Lone Star Media Day event in the Dallas area earlier this summer. He attended tickets to a Texas Rangers baseball game. He took two of his players with him. Carthel and his team returned home to the Panhandle after the event and the players reimbursed their coach for the tickets. Carthel then reported he’d been repaid before the game, not after, and asked his players to back him up.

No can do, said the WT athletic department high command. That’s a violation of an NCAA ethics tenet.

You’re fired, coach, for “pressuring” players to lie.

I get that WT cannot condone lying among its student-athletes, or anyone for that matter. I also get that if the coach had broken a rule knowingly that could result in his termination, then that adds even more ammo to the WT athletic director’s arsenal of evidence against the coach.

Furthermore, if Carthel didn’t know he had committed a firing offense, why didn’t he crack the books more diligently back in 2005 when WT hired him to resuscitate a near-dead football program?

This is a tough time for WT’s football program. My hope now is that the boosters who’ve given so much support — i.e. money — won’t give up on the athletes and the coaches who now are entering what most folks believe is supposed to be a highly successful season.

I’m hoping for the best at West Texas A&M. Go Buffs!

It’s about pressuring others to lie at WT

West Texas A&M University President Pat O’Brien has let it be known what brought about the sudden firing of the most successful football coach in the school’s history.

Former Buffaloes Coach Don Carthel “pressured” a couple of student-athletes to lie about when they reimbursed the coach for tickets to a big-league baseball game this past summer.

Here’s what O’Brien said on a Facebook post in the past few hours:

“The issue is not the purchase of the tickets but the lying associated with the purchase. Please refer to NCAA Article 10.1. The major issue is not that Don lied but he pressured two students to lie. We are not in the business of teaching students to lie.”

Carthel issued a statement this week in which he told how he took a couple of his players to see a Texas Rangers game in Arlington while visiting the area for a Lone Star Conference “Media Day” event. The athletes repaid Carthel for the tickets after attending the game, but the coach told the WT brass the kids repaid him beforehand. I guess he asked the kids to back his story up if the brass questioned them about Carthel’s version of events.

They did and the coach is gone.

End of story, right?

Probably not. There’s got to be more “there” there. Still waiting for a full accounting of cost Carthel his job. My hope now — for the sake of the team that’s about to start its 2013 season — that it all comes out in short order.