Million-dollar Gift from Bob and Darla Doty Enriches Tarleton Rodeo

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Longtime Tarleton friends and educators Bob and Darla Doty today announced a $1 million gift to support the university's nationally acclaimed rodeo program. From left are Emily McDeavitt, Jacob Perkey, President James Hurley, Darla and Bob Doty, Kindall Hurley, Assistant Rodeo Coach Dylon Henson and Keni Labrum.

STEPHENVILLE — Longtime Tarleton State University friends and educators Bob and Darla Doty today announced a $1 million contribution to support the school’s nationally acclaimed rodeo program.

The announcement was made at the Tarleton Alumni Association’s annual reception in conjunction with the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

“Bob and Darla, Tarleton and rodeo are synonymous,” said university President James Hurley. “Thanks to their leadership and amazing generosity over the years, our talented cowboys and cowgirls are recognized worldwide. This gift is a vote of confidence in our institution and our commitment to provide unparalleled opportunities for our students.”

When they joined Tarleton in 1994 — Bob as rodeo coach and Darla as a coordinator in Career Services — they wanted to inspire students, encourage volunteers and promote philanthropy while turning a good rodeo program into a great one.

They’ve done all of that.

Bob developed Tarleton rodeo into a perennial powerhouse. He and his student-athletes secured two national and 10 individual championships in his 14 years as coach, making him top pick for the 2006 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Coach of the Year after both the men’s and women’s teams swept the 2005 competition.

The couple worked tirelessly to obtain funding for practice arenas, livestock and scholarships. They found time to foster academic excellence and mentor students. More than 90 percent of rodeo team members graduated during Bob’s tenure, and four were named outstanding graduates.

“Students. Rodeo. Tarleton. All are reasons for our support,” Bob said. “We thank God that we are blessed to contribute financially to Tarleton rodeo. It’s a big part of our lives.”

He applauded the rodeo program’s new headquarters (part of the former Downunder Horsemanship Ranch) a stone’s throw from Tarleton’s Stephenville campus, calling it a game changer for the university.

“From the barns to the arenas, it’s a best-in-class facility,” he said, “and the perfect complement to the top rodeo program in the country.”

In addition to their million-dollar donation, the couple endowed the Bob and Darla Doty Rodeo Scholarship. Darla, her brother, Jack, and sister, Debra, started the Mildred W. Buchanan Endowed Fund — in honor of their mother — to support students working in Tarleton’s Laboratory for Wellness and Motor Behavior.

“Bob and Darla enjoy a national legacy as top-shelf visionaries and benefactors,” Dr. Hurley said. “They’re a model for all of us to follow.”

Both are retired — Bob from coaching in 2008 and teaching in 2020, and Darla in 2015 as Interim Vice President for Student Affairs. Both were inducted into the Tarleton Rodeo Hall of Fame in 2014, and Bob into the Cowboy Capital Walk of Fame in 2000.

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