Tarleton’s Dr. Hurley talks going D1


October 15, 2019

Russell Huffman

New Tarleton State president Dr. James Hurley is as colorful as the striped socks that peek out from under his suit pants when he talks about what is in store for the university in the very near future, including a horseshoe-style expansion of Wisdom Gym and a nearby parking garage.

Hurley was appointed as the 16th president at Tarleton in August of this year, and since that time there has been a whirlwind of activity with last week’s announcement the university’s sports programs are moving up to the NCAA D1 level next year.

During an informal meeting Monday, Hurley said he had encountered nothing but positive feedback since the announcement, and he had also been fielding questions concerning potential increases in student tuition, student ticket prices, and perhaps number one on many minds the issue of parking so fans can attend games.

The decision to move to NCAA D1 hasn’t come lightly for Tarleton, and it’s come with more than 20 years of probing, research, almosts and now finally a rock-solid commitment to make the step.

Over the next three years, expect TSU to begin more construction (perhaps even in housing the next 1-2 years) to make all of this happen. The addition of a parking garage is going to come with a long-term plan to cover its costs, and few building projects have as low a return as a parking garage.

A rough number at the estimate of construction is around $22,000 per parking space (factor in ramps, reinforcements, etc.), making a garage that’s capable of 500 parking spaces equal $11 million to build. Plans call for the garage to be built across the street from Tarleton’s tennis courts adjacent to Memorial Stadium – I didn’t ask how many spaces the garage’s plans include.

It’s about to be a time in the university’s history where Tarleton will be especially thankful to have a president in place who happens to have a doctorate in educational leadership and finance because a parking garage project could take up to 30 years to get paid off.

It was all of the carefully laid out plans of expansion, including the move to NCAA D1 that excited Dr. Hurley and motivated him to move from being president at Tusculum University in Greenville, Tennessee, to Stephenville where he does admit, “the Texas heat” has been his most significant adjustment.

While no exact details were laid out, Dr. Hurley discussed how the university is now in a 3-5 year timeline for removing the swimming pool on the southern end of Wisdom gym and expanding seating with a horseshoe-style venue for basketball. An aquatic center on campus is now fulfilling the old pool’s original purpose.

Dr. Hurley also pointed out the university no longer has a building capable of seating the entire freshman class, and Wisdom Gym’s expansion will be capable of handling such a crowd.

Sports are only a part of what Tarleton’s future plans hold, and ramping up student recruiting is one of the top agenda items – at least for the next year or two, and then the university will look at its housing situation.

Tarleton was experiencing double-digit growth until a couple of years ago when recruiters cut back when student numbers out-paced housing. The university generally runs 96-100 percent occupancy in student housing with those completing four semesters of school then being eligible to live off-campus.

If the plans hold for only a couple more years of student housing expansion by Tarleton (officials are expecting an immediate increase in students locally) there will also be what Dr. Hurley calls a “win-win situation” for Stephenville housing providers.

Some area housing providers are no way near capacity, as evidenced by the number of move-in specials, first-month free rent offers, and even vehicle giveaways to attract renters have been advertised in the last couple of years.

I am now jumping back to an earlier mentioned question concerning if students will now have to pay to see games? According to Dr. Hurley, that won’t be the case as the price of student admission to sporting events is included in the cost of tuition as it has been in the past.

Money and costs are always at the forefront of such an expansion as Tarleton is taking, and there’s one very lucrative aspect many may overlook. There’s a pile of cash waiting for schools like Tarleton, who are willing to commit to playing more prominent D1 schools on their opening weeks of play.

Within an hour of the release of the news Tarleton was going NCAA D1, Texas Christian University (Yes, that TCU!) contacted TSU officials to begin laying the groundwork for a future game against the Horned Frogs.
How much money is TCU willing to layout for such a game? Let’s say it’s enough to cover the Tarleton football budget for the next three seasons.


  1. The D1 decision I thought was based on the student body approving an increase in the athletic fee from $22 to $32 per semester hour. And from watching the discussion they have posted on YouTube about it; I would say it will be a tough sell. Mostly due to the wording they used for the question on the ballot. “Do you support a $10 increase in athletic fees per credit hour; yes or no” Is not likely to ride well for cash strapped students without an explanation. Hopefully they change it.

    • Moving to D1 is the best financial decision the Board of Regents have made. The possibilities of playing the Schools in the Big 12 us exciting an about time. Tarleton will beat some of them.

  2. According to the EADA form filed by Tarleton State for the year ending 8/31/18, it had an athletic operating expense for all teams of $927,173.00. Using that number as a base, TCU has offered to pay Tarleton $2.781 million for a single game. I believe that would be the highest guaranty game fee ever paid to a FCS institution.

    • Well, could Tarleton get TCU to throw in 1000 shares of an electric company that TSU regents could use the dividends against the students lab fees. LOL…lol…actually Andy what the Tarleton officials are keeping secret in these negotiations with the WAC officials is that each students grade will go up on average 3 points, like 80 to 83. The SEC guarantees a 5 point in increase in students grades. That is 80 to 85. lol

      Seriously if Tarleton’s athletic teams are going move in Division then why can’t the athletes begin an endowment fund that becomes amassing shares of electricity companies the go to paying students-fans lab fees. If TCU is talking $2.781 mil towards the drive over to Ft. Worth then why can’t our President and other school begin talk on what will you pay toward the student body lab fees. And why cant we begin these negotiations with a new slant right down to where can have our athletes add some real skin in the game. Let’s add some real Rah to the games knowing that our Athletic teams are also driving down each and every students expense.

  3. Where I set with this issue concerning the name John Tarleton on his P.E. school in Stephenville, Texas and combining it with Texas A&M University’s regents decision body and the name-sake school is just how much community will be allowed and just how much gravity will Mr. Tarlerton’s schools President really have in any decision carry to the A&M people.

    This has gone on for decades with A&M. I had many discussion’s with Huge and Danny Wolfe and 2 college Presidents along with many of the men whose name rest upon Tarleton Buildings on Mr. Tarleton campus and I’m well aware of Ross Wolfe, Sr. giving that land where Tarleton and Stephenville High School teams play home games. I recall leaving off a 300 acre farm in Jacksboro, Texas one with Danny Wolfe because he had a meeting with Tarleton’s new President McCabe the new President of the time.

    Mr. Tarleton’s schools have a number of accomplishments with accomplished students that could carry All-American ratings.

    I worked for Clint Murchison, Jr. and transferred to the law firm one floor below the Murchison’s Investment Management Corporation in the First National Bank building in downtown Dallas. And in that law firm was a Senior partner name Gilchrist who sat at his fathers old desk. His father was a Texas Department of Highways President or whatever the name was to the head of that Texas State Department. Mr Gilchrist father was a Chancellor for Texas A&M. I believe there was a street named for his father on A&M’s campus. But Mr. Gilchrist had a dream for Texas A&M at the time for Texas A&M to have a law school and a medical school . That was the year Mr Murchison’s Cowboys won Super Bowl VI which was season 1971 with the Super Bowl played in 1972. That dream of Mr Gilchrist dream was accomplished.. I know Mr Gilchrist has lunch lunch on Fridays at the Petroleum Club in Dallas. George Coleman the attorney I keep in touch with from the Cowboys old law firm meets and eats with him and dines there too. Mr Coleman’s secretary at Bell Nunnally & Martin is securing me a guest lunch with those 2.

    My issue here at these initial discussion in public is Mr Tarleton’s name and his story. Remember he was a man of orphanage and orphanage is far and above the crowd of noise at any sporting event in importance. So I appeal to his alumni to consider and the men and women that are representing Mr. Tarleton’s Physical Education Department in Extra Curricular teams on football in Division ! football that Mr Tarleton’s band will play the National Anthem at all away games in the conference games. For those that may never had known parents that is a small demand we might ask to the WAC.

  4. So with 4.1 millions kids cutting class on September 20,2019 to protest that not enough mothers, fathers and grandparents are doing enough what is being called now a climate catastrophe and how scared because of it that the thing to do is to turn the volume up on the party and go Division 1 which I bet calls for more combustible fumes through increased travel to games is the best direction. Believe me High Wolfe a former Tarleton football payer would tel you climate change is real and the planet could lose its ability to support life. Stephenville and area schools have many young students 12 and younger don’t they? Well they aren’t getting any say so here.

    Something to ponder.


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