The University of Texas at Arlington has announced the appointment of Jim Baker, currently the UT Austin associate athletic director for events and operations, as the University's new director of intercollegiate athletics.
Baker, who joined the Texas Longhorn athletics program in 1991, will oversee UT Arlington's 14 Division I intercollegiate sports programs and usher in a new era of competition as the University moves next summer to the Western Athletic Conference. His appointment is effective Feb. 1, 2012.
Baker's 30 years of experience in athletics administration, philanthropic partnerships and events management will serve UT Arlington well as the University prepares to debut men's and women's basketball in the new $78 million College Park Center, also on Feb. 1.
"We are fortunate to have such an exceptional leader join us at this critical point in the evolution of our program," said James D. Spaniolo, president of The University of Texas at Arlington. "Jim has unparalleled experience and a proven track record with one of the most respected and successful athletics programs in the nation.
"We will look to Jim to advance the UT Arlington program to even higher levels of regional and national competition." Baker said the combination of UT Arlington's facilities for student-athletes and the pending move to the WAC positions the University for great achievement across its athletics programs.
"The commitment is there from the president on down that we will compete on a national stage," Baker said. "We are in a great recruiting place and a great city with a remarkable partnership with the University."
Baker earned his undergraduate degree in business administration from Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. He began his career working with The Ohio State University and served in various positions with the University of Florida from 1982 until he joined The University of Texas at Austin in 1991.
His expertise is wide-ranging - from overseeing UT Austin's baseball and golf programs to managing multi-million athletics construction programs and football game-day activities.
Dallas businessman Bob Utley, a UT Arlington alumnus and member of the University's Development Board member, said he has been impressed with Baker's work at UT Austin. "He has a contemporary understanding of what it takes to build a top-flight university athletics program," said Utley, who met Baker through his work with the UT Austin athletics program. "Jim is savvy about the fast-changing demands in the collegiate athletics market."
The University of Texas at Arlington fields competitive teams in men's and women's basketball, women's volleyball, baseball, softball, men's golf, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's tennis and in men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field events.
The men's basketball team earned its first NCAA tournament bid in 2008 after winning the Southland Conference Tournament. The women's basketball team made trips to the NCAA tournament in 2005 and 2007. The volleyball team made a Final Four appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 1989.
Ten former UT Arlington baseball players have played, coached or managed in Major League Baseball. The program counts 37 MLB draft or free agent selections since 2000. Among the program's alumni are New York Mets starting pitcher Dillon Gee; Texas Rangers pitcher Mark Lowe; Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Hunter Pence; and Trey Hillman, now the bench coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tickets to the Feb. 1 men's and women's basketball games at College Park Center are free, but required for admission. Tickets will be available beginning Jan. 2, 2012 online at www.utatickets.com.
More information about College Park Center and the series of grand opening activities scheduled for UT Arlington's new special events center is available atwww.utacollegepark.com.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 34,000 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.
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