Bill Petitt Named Interim Athletic Director
Bill Petitt has had his hand in athletics since he was a child growing up in Lubbock, Texas.
“I played sports as a kid and wasn’t great at any of them,” he admits.
But that didn’t stop him from pursuing a career in athletics. The interim athletic director has more than 20 years of experience in college athletics — a career he hopes will expand into a new role as athletic director for the University of Texas at Dallas.
“When it all adds up I think I have enough experience in every area and am ready for the next step,” Petitt said. “My first job at West Texas A&M University I basically did it all — media relations, marketing, games administrator. I handled travel at UTA; I’m accustomed to budgeting.”
Petitt served as assistant athletic director for media relations and sports information at the University of Texas at Arlington from 2003 to 2007, where he directed the sports information activities as well as represented the university in marketing and fundraising efforts. He served the prior three years as an assistant sports information director at the University of Texas at San Antonio. He also held the title of sports information director at West Texas A&M from 1987 to 1990.
While at UTD, where he was hired in 2007, Petitt’s responsibilities as associate athletic director for external affairs include fundraising and marketing for the athletic department. In January, he started wearing another hat after former athletic director Chris Cage retired.
“I had no clue Chris was going to retire,” Petitt said. “While it was sudden, when you think about it it’s not a big surprise with him being 64 and having been in college athletics 40 years. He left the department in really good shape.”
Keeping the department in good shape is one of Petitt’s main goals during this interim time and hopefully for years to come.
“Dr. [Darrelene] Rachavong was really good about wanting us to continue going with business as usual and continue to do the day-to-day tasks,” Petitt said. “I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I’m going to apply. If I am the next AD the transition will be seamless.”
Rachavong, the vice president for student affairs, plans to meet with coaches soon to discuss the qualities they would like to see in their next AD.
“I will probably form a search committee in late April for the AD position. I really have not imposed any dates beyond that,” she said. “Bill has done an amazing job as interim. He has planned two conference tournaments that we hosted and they went extremely well, absolutely no hiccups. He also planned the trip to the Sweet 16 for our basketball team, handled all the logistics leaving the coach to only worry about practices.”
Some of the other tasks that took place within his first month as interim AD, which Petitt said was the busiest, included working on the 2016 budget, hiring a new soccer coach, small renovations for the soccer field and discussing building expansion. Although the work has been nonstop, rapport with all of those surrounding him is what Petitt pinpoints as helping the transition go as smoothly as it has.
“I’m still doing sponsorships, so I’m doing two jobs at once. It’s been a team effort. Without me asking, people have asked to help,” he noted. “Everybody has been good. I met with Dr. [David] Daniel so we could get to know each other better than we already do, and we see eye-to-eye on everything.”
Petitt’s vision is grand, but one he is confident UTD is working its way to.
“I want us to be like Stanford because I feel they have always made an effort to be the best at everything — the way I’ve always tried to approach this job,” he said. “We may be D-III by name, but we try to be like D-I. One way is by trying to give that extra touch. We try to do things the right way. I try to treat people right.”
That includes the student-athletes.
“The student-athletes are all great. These are good kids in a tough school,” Petitt said. “You have 18-year-olds who are physically mature, but they’re just babies. I’m really trying to make an effort to know everyone’s names. It makes a huge difference and shows them they are somebody and somebody is paying attention to them. For some, this is their first time away from home and they’re homesick, hardly playing, classes are really hard. It’s important to let them know we’re here for them.”
And that’s Petitt’s hope: to continue being here at UTD and in college athletics.
“I didn’t plan to be in the UT System this long, but I really like college athletics,” he said. “For me, it’s never been about the money. There was a short period of time between working at West Texas A&M and UTSA when I wasn’t in [this field]. I realized then how much I really missed it. I would like to stick it out in college athletics.”