DeLoss Dodds Born: August 8, 1939 (Riley, KS)
Sponsored by: Jack Parr Graduated: Riley High School, 1955; Kansas State University, 1959
The list of inductees to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame for their contributions to athletics as an athletic administrator is long and illustrious, including some of the biggest names in Kansas sports history like, Phog Allen, Ernie Barrett, Arthur Lonborg, Paul Gross, and Carnie Smith. Today, another name is added to the list of memorable athletic directors with Kansas ties and his name is one that is known throughout the nation.
Many sports fans across the country will recognize the name DeLoss Dodds for the enormous impact he had while serving as the sixth men’s Athletic Director at the University of Texas in Austin from 1981 to 2013. Yet, while Dodds’ national fame might have come from his outstanding work in Texas, he has always been a Kansan.
Born and raised in Riley, Kansas, it seemed that as a young man, Dodds would make his national name on the playing field. Nicknamed the “Riley Flash” for his blazing speed, Dodds was a three-sport standout in football, basketball, and track. It was that speed that earned Dodds a spot on the Kansas State University football team and an invitation from Wildcat head basketball coach, and 1997 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, Tex Winter, to join his squad as well.
As they so often do in sports, injuries pushed Dodds down a different path and he chose to run track at K-State for 1963 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame inductee Ward Haylett. Dodds displayed the speed that earned him his nickname by winning the Big 8 Conference title in the 440 meters his senior year in 1959.
Following graduation and service in the Army, Dodds returned to K-State as a volunteer track coach and ticket manager in 1961 before being named as Haylett’s replacement as head track and cross country coach in 1963. Dodds’ teams won six Big 8 titles during his fourteen years at the helm and produced numerous All-Americans, including four-time All-American and 2009 Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee Ken Swenson.
In 1978, after a short stint as assistant commissioner of the Big 8, Dodds was named the eighth Athletic Director at Kansas State University. Dodds inherited an athletic department that was in debt and within three years his hard work turned the program around putting it back on the right track.
His quick turnaround of the athletic program at K-State brought attention and when the University of Texas was looking for their next Men’s Athletic Director in 1981, they hired Dodds to bring his same magic to Texas.
At Texas, Dodds started the Longhorn Foundation as the department’s official fundraising leg in 1986. The Foundation raised nearly one million dollars in its first year of operation. In total, more than $370 million have been raised by the foundation for scholarships, academic services, sports medicine, facilities and all other aspects of Texas Athletics. Dodds transformed the University of Texas Athletics into a national powerhouse during his tenure in Austin and was instrumental in the formation of the Big XII Conference and Texas’s ground-breaking Longhorn Network television deal with ESPN as the nation’s first sports network devoted to one single school.
Dodds’ leadership also translated to the performance on the field as well. Since his hiring in 1981, the Longhorns claimed fourteen national titles and an astounding 108 conference titles in nine men’s sports all while elevating the experience of the student athletes through facility improvements and his commitment to ensuring his athletes were getting a quality education.
For his accomplishments, Dodds has received numerous awards and honors including the 2005 and 2011 Athletic Director of the Year by the SportsBusiness Journal. He was also an inductee to the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 1989, the Kansas State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995, U.S. Track Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
Today, like the legends listed at the top of this page, Dodds gets to add another honor to his list: Kansas Sports Hall of Fame Inductee.