DENTON (UNT), Texas -- After nearly 16 years as the top administrator for intercollegiate athletics at the University of North Texas, Rick Villarreal announced today that he is stepping down as the university's Athletic Director effective June 20, 2016.
"UNT President Neal Smatresk and I recently have been in discussions about the future of the university's athletic program and a transition of athletic leadership, and we have come to this mutual agreement," said Villarreal. "With the support of dedicated staff members, I have accomplished almost everything that I imagined possible here. I am satisfied that the work we have undertaken together has placed our coaches and student athletes in a better position to succeed, both on and off the field."
Under Villarreal's leadership, improvements were made in many key areas, including facilities, student-athlete academic achievement and support for gender equity.
Nearly every facility used by student-athletes has been newly built or renovated under his leadership, including the Student-Athlete Academic Center; Apogee Stadium and the adjacent football, training and administrative complex; Waranch Tennis Center; Lovelace Softball Stadium; Kuehne Basketball Practice Facility; Women's Soccer Complex; golf and volleyball practice facilities; and improvements to the Super Pit in the Coliseum. Villarreal helped to raise millions in gifts and pledges to fund facilities and student scholarships.
UNT moved from the Sun Belt Conference to Conference USA, earned more than 30 conference championships, participated in 5 Bowl Games and two NCAA Basketball Tournaments during Villarreal's tenure. And importantly, Academic Performance Rates and graduation rates were among the highest in the department's history and within the conference.
Villarreal's accomplishments reflect his love of sports and this university and his dedication to our student-athletes said President Smatresk.
"Rick has taken pride in helping to put our coaches and teams in the position to succeed, and he is one of the most effective community advocates in the history of our university," Smatresk said. "But his biggest contribution of all is to the bright futures of our student-athletes. And for that, especially, Rick will always have a place in the heart of this university. We all appreciate and respect what he has accomplished."
Villarreal says that while the complex and multifaceted job of serving as UNT's Athletic Director has sometimes been challenging, it also has been very rewarding.
"I've taken pride in serving as this university's Athletic Director. Even when the work was challenging, it was gratifying. I will miss being part of daily campus life, but will forever treasure memories of the experiences I've had at UNT."
President Smatresk will identify an Interim Athletic Director and make decisions about a national search for a new Athletic Director at a future date.