Tarleton’s rodeo facility named in honor of Bob and Darla Doty
STEPHENVILLE — Naming the new Tarleton State University rodeo facility to honor the legacy of Bob and Darla Doty was a foregone conclusion, and it became a reality.
The naming comes just months after the couple announced a $1 million contribution to support the school’s nationally acclaimed rodeo program.
“It’s only right that this facility bears the names of Bob and Darla Doty,” said university President James Hurley. “Tarleton and rodeo are synonymous, largely because of their leadership and amazing generosity.”
They joined Tarleton in 1994 — Bob as rodeo coach and Darla as a coordinator in Career Services — with common goals to inspire students, encourage volunteers and promote philanthropy while turning an already vaunted rodeo program into a perennial powerhouse.
Bob led his student-athletes to two national and 10 individual championships in his 14 years as coach, earning the 2006 National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association’s Coach of the Year award 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 in applauding the new rodeo headquarters. The facility, formerly Downunder Horsemanship Ranch, is a stone’s throw from Tarleton’s Stephenville campus.
“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. “Their investment will impact students and the Tarleton rodeo program for decades to come.”
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.
A founding member of The Texas A&M University System, Tarleton transforms generations by inspiring discovery, leadership and inclusion through teaching and research. Degree programs for more than 14,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Midlothian, at RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, and online emphasize real-world learning that addresses regional needs while sustaining the values of excellence, integrity and respect.