Longtime Tarleton State University rodeo coach Bob Doty has recently announced his retirement from coaching rodeo. His retirement will begin July 31, although Doty will continue teaching in the university’s animal science department.
Doty, 56, has been coaching collegiate rodeo for 29 years and has been at Tarleton since 1994. His accomplishments have made him one of the most respected coaches in the United States and his personality has endeared him to countless students and peers.
“Retirement is going to be different,” Doty said. “It was a very hard decision. Coaching takes a lot of hours, but I didn’t want to reduce my effort, it just wouldn’t be fair to the program.”
A native of Lueders, Doty received his bachelor’s degree in general agriculture/business administration from Abilene Christian University and his master’s of education in agriculture from Sam Houston State University.
He taught high school vocational agriculture at Lueders-Avoca High School, the Davis Mountain Achievement Center and Big Springs High School prior to coaching the rodeo teams at Western Texas College (WTC) in Snyder. He coached at WTC for 15 years before joining Tarleton’s staff.
Doty will take the Tarleton women’s and five men individuals to compete in the College National Rodeo Finals (CNFR) in Casper, Wyo., June 15-21. Doty’s teams won men’s and women’s National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA) titles in 2005, which were his second and third national championships. Doty’s team also won the 1986 men’s national title at WTC.
“Bob Doty is an excellent teacher, role model and mentor to Tarleton’s rodeo students and all of us will miss having him as rodeo coach,” said Dr. Wanda Mercer, vice president of student life at Tarleton. “In his 14 years at Tarleton he has made a good rodeo program great, helping many students to achieve academic and rodeo success. He is truly an exemplary person and leader.”
While at WTC Doty’s teams qualified for the CNFR 13 of the 15 years he coached, and always qualified several individuals. In 2006, he reached another milestone-NIRA Coach of the Year.
“We are going to miss Bob so much,” said Sarah Neely, NIRA Director of Public Relations. “In the time that I’ve been here he has made Tarleton such a powerhouse on the national level. He’s served on the board of directors and has been such a great source of leadership.”
Tarleton’s Rodeo Association is one of the largest active collegiate rodeo groups in the country and many of the students come to Tarleton from out of state to compete for the university. Before 1994, though, Tarleton was not yet offering scholarship funding for rodeo contestants, except through Copenhagen/Skoal Scholarship Award Program, endowed scholarships, private donations, and fundraisers.
“When I came we didn’t get any money for scholarships from the university,” Doty said. “All of it was either raised or donated by individuals. But with the help of the student service fee committee, Dr. Mercer and Tarleton President Dennis McCabe, we were able to give more scholarships.”
The program has also benefited from new construction projects and curriculum additions set in place by Doty.
“I saw a lot of areas that could be improved,” Doty said. “They didn’t have a practice facility. They were leasing the one they were using from the Erath County Livestock Association. So we went about raising money and getting support to build a practice facility. That was finished in the fall of 1999.”
Doty also developed a rodeo physical education class as well as a rodeo production class, and implemented them into the curriculum. The physical education class allows rodeo students to gain physical education credit while competing in rodeos.
While Doty has made Tarleton rodeo known throughout the nation, he hasn’t done it alone. His wife, Darla, Tarleton’s career services director, has played a large role in the success.
“Bob taught high school ag for a while and immediately he involved me in the activities,” Darla said. “Then when we started coaching rodeo, I made the mistake early on of being able to run a concession stand and time events.”
Bob added, “I could have not accomplished all I did without an understanding family. Darla and my sons, Jay and Sterling, always knew their vacations would center around the teams competing at the CNFR or recruiting trips to the National High School Finals.”
Along with coaching, Bob has also participated even after his days as a professional bareback rider ended.
“He rode a bucking horse at 50,” Darla said. “After they finished the chutes at the Equine Center someone said, ‘Bob you ought to be the first one to ride out of the gate.’ So he did it, and the next day a student came and told me I might want to take out some more life insurance for Bob. Some things never change. The sport of rodeo is in his blood and he loves working with students. I know he is going to miss it.”