The football contest on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium will be uniquely special for DeLoss Dodds. The Texas Longhorns and visiting K-State Wildcats are Big 12 Conference competitors, yet they are connected by their connection to Dodds.
A Kansas native, Dodds guided both programs as a level-headed servant leader. He was director of athletics at K-State for three years, before coming to Texas for a record-setting 32-year tenure as Men’s Athletics Director for the Longhorns.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Dodds’ deft touch as an administrator, team builder and tactician was developed in the Army.
In addition to his championship billing as a quarter-miler on the K-State track team, Dodds also served in the campus ROTC. He graduated in 1959 and began his service in the Army.
“You knew you were going to serve. That was the time when you did serve,” Dodds said.
Dodds said he selected the Armor Branch for his specialization. He attended the United States Army Armor School, then located in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and learned the purpose, function and execution for each component of a tank. Dodds had platoon of five tanks under his command. Each tank included a driver, gunner and loader. All told, the young Dodds had about 25 soldiers under his watch.
“Some of them were high school graduates, but not all of them. It was a pretty rough bunch,” Dodds said. “You find out pretty quickly if you work, they work.”
Dodds’ embraced a leadership style of humility and service. With a daily approach of hard work, he set the tone and example. His units were never called into war, but they were constantly preparing for it. They trained in field maneuvers, and allied countries visited the facility and performed simulated tactics for battle.
“I was qualified to fire almost every weapon in the Army, because I took the time to qualify and get tested,” Dodds said.
Dodds married his wife, Mary Ann, in college, and the couple already had one child during his Army service. He was discharged from active duty after six months, but he remained in the reserves for eight years, eventually reaching the rank of captain.
When Dodds was discharged from active duty, he returned to K-State. The track coach at the time did not have an assistant, and Dodds agreed to help out for a couple months, until the end of the season. K-State administration asked Dodds to stay on full-time as the ticket office manager, and Dodds agreed so long as he could continue assisting the track team.
Dodds became head coach in 1963 and served in that position for 14 years, guiding K-State to six Big Eight titles. He later took over as K-State athletics director, and in three years turned the Wildcats program into one of profitability and sustainability, before moving to Texas in 1981.
“Show up to work,” Dodds said of his leadership style. “The people who work for you, they see you working. And so they know that’s what you do.”
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Source: Texas Sports
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