Tag Archives: West Texas A&M University

Oh, the stress of deciding how to vote

Amarillo is going to the polls one more time Saturday.

I’m still undecided on how I should vote in the runoff for Place 4 on our City Council.

It appears that downtown’s revival future might be at stake. Both of the candidates seem like good men. They’re thoughtful and insightful.

Mark Nair finished first in the May 9 election; Steve Rogers finished second. Nair didn’t get to the 50 percent-plus one vote majority he needed to win the seat outright. Thus, we have the runoff.

Some controversy has swirled in this race. It involves the Commerce Building downtown and Rogers’s involvement in the appraisal of the building that will become the site of West Texas A&M University’s downtown Amarillo campus.

We’ve now learned that Rogers — a real estate investment guy — provided the correct assessment of the property’s value, even though some had alleged that it was severely overvalued. The FBI is now involved. It’s looking, however, that the deal was on the up-and-up.

Rogers is known to be friends with Mayor Paul Harpole and is thought to be an ally of the mayor, who wants to push forward aggressively with downtown revival efforts.

Then we have Nair. I’ve met him once — which is one more time than I’ve met Rogers. He seems like an earnest and honest young man. One of his key supporters is someone I know pretty well and she believes Nair asks “all the right questions” about any issue relating to public city policy.  He asks questions about the process that produced the downtown redevelopment effort, sounding a bit doubtful about its legitimacy.

This election provides ample support for my belief in waiting until the last day to cast a vote. I don’t like voting early, particularly if I’m having trouble making up my mind.

I’ve read the comments by both men. I’ve read some of their statements in the media. I have a good idea where they both stand on this downtown matter, which appears to be the driving issue of this runoff campaign.

Readers of this blog know where I stand on downtown development. That might give you a clue as to how I’m leaning; do not presume anything, however. I know many of both men’s key supporters quite well. I trust and respect their judgment in the choices each of them has made in declaring their support either for Rogers or Nair.

Therefore, I remain somewhat torn.

I’d better make up my mind in a hurry.

Just don’t ask me how I’m going to vote. We cast “secret ballots” for a reason.


College finds another home-grown leader

Russell Lowery-Hart appears headed to the office of Amarillo College president.

There goes my advice to the college board of regents, which was to cast a wide net to find a successor to retiring AC President Paul Matney.

Lowery-Hart is the second in command at AC and the board has voted unanimously to declare him as its sole finalist in the search for a new president.

I still favor wide-as-possible searches — if only to strengthen the local candidates, making them compete head to head with qualified individuals with fresh ideas and outlooks.

That won’t happen with Lowery-Hart, just as it didn’t happen when the college picked Matney to succeed the late Steven Jones, who did come from beyond the Panhandle to run the college before he died.

Lowery-Hart will take office with overwhelming support from AC faculty, staff and students. That gives him a huge advantage, just as it did for Matney.

I am not going to criticize this pending appointment. I’ve heard from those close to the situation that Lowery-Hart brings a lot to the office. He’s a West Texas A&M University grad; he got graduate degrees from Texas Tech University. He’s well-educated and knows the college well. He appears to be a solid pick.

I’ve long been amazed about Amarillo College’s community standing. AC seems almost immune to significant criticism, such as what one hears about Potter and Randall county governments, or Amarillo City Hall, or even the Amarillo and Canyon independent school districts. AC has escaped many of the barbs that get tossed at public institutions.

That speaks well for the leadership of the school.

I am optimistic that the new president-in-waiting will maintain that standing.

WT students design a miraculous hand

This has to be one of the more amazing stories I’ve read in some time.

Four West Texas A&M University students have designed a prosthetic hand that will help young patients with limb disorders.


They used fishing line, a bungee chord and a three-dimension printer to design the prosthesis. Alex Parra, an engineering school graduate who worked on the project called it a “humbling experience.”

No kidding, Alex.

“It helped us realize we are blessed by having everything that we have,” he said.

Let projects like this one, and others that young people are doing every single day, serve as proof that our world will be doing just fine when the next generation takes over.

The WT students worked with a 10-year-old girl, Aly Hunt, who has congenital defect in her left hand. The original design was developed in South Africa. They worked with a prosthetist at Scottish Rite Hospital, who helped them complete the project.

Aly is able to do many physical activities with the prosthesis, such as playing golf, tennis and the violin.

The prosthetic hand also allows for some dexterity, enabling it pick up items with movable fingers.

Every generation since the beginning of time has feared the future of the world when they’re no longer on the scene. It’s amazing, then, that we’re still around to keep lamenting the future.

Well, I am fearing the future a lot less after learning of this amazing accomplishment. Well done, WT students.

WT men’s basketball coach retires at ‘right time’?

I’ll admit right up front that I am not in the know about West Texas A&M University athletics.

I’ve not been a close student of the dynamics that run the program. I do, however, wonder — right along with a lot of other Texas Panhandle residents — about the timing of today’s stunning announcement that WT men’s basketball coach Rick Cooper is retiring seven games into a 30-game season.


He says this is the “right time.” The right time? What in the world can possibly by “right” about leaving your team when its season is just getting started. He won his last game, against Pittsburg State. He had a whole rest of the season to play.

He retires? Now?

That, of course, assumes there isn’t some compelling health reason that forced him to retire.

Cooper was the most winning coach in WT men’s basketball history. He put together a solid program.

I don’t know Cooper. I’ve heard that he coaches with, um, intensity. I was visiting at lunch today with some of my fellow Rotary Club members about Cooper’s announcement. One of my pals talked about Cooper’s aggressive coaching style, and I mentioned the late Joe Kerbel, the fiery WT football coach who dropped dead at a young age. Kerbel routinely went ballistic on the sidelines of WT football games. Perhaps the men’s basketball coach wanted to avoid that fate.

I don’t know the particulars.

Nor do I know what prompts a coach to declare his retirement is coming at the “right time” barely a quarter of the way into a season — unless there is some unknown factor at play here.

I’m hoping for a more complete explanation.

Carthel vs. McBroom, etc.

The earth is still rumbling under the feet of the West Texas A&M University football program, which saw its head coach, Don Carthel, fired over an apparent ethical lapse.

In his statement to the public, Carthel spoke of his “unhealthy” relationship with WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom, for whom Carthel worked and who did the firing this past week. Carthel was fired for violating a rule governing the conduct of players. Carthel took two of his players to a big league baseball game this summer in Arlington, got them to reimburse him for their game tickets and then fibbed about when he got the players’ payment; he then asked the players back up his story.

Bad call, coach.

It has since occurred to me that friction between a highly successful coach and his or her boss — namely the university athletic director — isn’t all that uncommon.

Let me make clear that I am not privy to the details of the two men’s professional relationship. I cannot vouch for how they feel about each other as men. I don’t know either of them, although I’ve shaken Carthel’s hand and spoken with him a time or two on occasion.

Almost by definition, a successful athletic coach must possess a large ego, not unlike a politician who seeks a high office. The late Sen. George McGovern, who ran for president, once said a big ego was the No. 1 requirement of a successful politician. So it should be with a successful coach.

It might be, then, that Carthel’s own ego got in the way of his relationship with McBroom.

Other coaches have run afoul of their bosses. Look what’s happened down the road a bit, at Texas Tech University. Head football coach Mike Leach was fired over an allegation that he mistreated one of his players, but the trouble had been brewing almost from the day Leach got there. He’s a bit of an oddball and his style didn’t always seem like a good fit with the hidebound types who call the shots at Tech.

Then, of course, former head men’s basketball coach Bob Knight got into that infamous salad bar argument with Tech Chancellor David Smith.

I’m not suggesting that Don Carthel is in Leach’s league, let alone in the same league with the fiery Knight.

Successful coaches don’t come along very often. Universities usually pay them lots of money to win football games, which means more fans come to the games, which means more cash for the school, which means better recruitment opportunities to lure blue-chip athletes to keep the winning program going.

Get it?

It might be that McBroom was looking for a way to get rid of Carthel — who then did his boss a favor by handing him the opportunity.

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.

So … this is a firing offense at WT?

I’ve read this statement three times already and I think I understand what happened to West Texas A&M University football coach Don Carthel.

He took two athletes to a Texas Rangers baseball game in Dallas, asked them to reimburse him for their tickets to the game after the event to avoid getting slapped by the NCAA, and then told WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom that he was reimbursed before the event. Thus, he fibbed to his boss about when he was repaid for the expense, but he did so in good faith, thinking that the AD would want him to be on the up-and-up.


And for that he got fired?

This is going to take a bit of time to process.

Carthel talks in his statement about his testy relationship with the WT athletic brass, including McBroom. I’m left to wonder now if the athletic director was looking for a reason to can the coach.

Technically, he might have found it with the fib about the reimbursement. I’m having trouble getting how that constitutes a “blatant” disregard for ethics rules and regulations.

I’ll need more time to think this one over.

WT needs to come clean … quickly

Well, that was a shock. West Texas A&M University has fired head football coach Don Carthel, who rebuilt a program that was in the crapper.

As of this moment, I’m unaware of the reason for firing Carthel, the winningest coach in WT history. Athletic Director Michael McBroom has issued some kind of milquetoast statement thanking Carthel for building a program and returning it to national notoriety.

But Carthel, a native of Friona, is gone. An assistant coach will take over on an interim basis when the season starts in just a few days.

The timing of this dismissal is amazing. So is the absence of any stated reason.

WT, being a public university, operates under the state’s personnel exemption, meaning that the school can keep the reason a secret if it so chooses.

My recommendation is for WT to spill the beans immediately. The public needs to know what happened at WT for Carthel to fall out of favor. Absent any truth-telling from the WT brass, the rumor is bound to take off like a skyrocket — and there’s no telling how many reputations may be damaged unjustly.

Talk to us, WT.