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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
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Texas A&M starting pitcher/relief pitcher Emiley Kennedy (11) hands the ball to starting pitcher/relief pitcher Brooke Vestal (19) during Texas A&M’s game against Texas at the Austin Super Regional at Red and Charline McCombs Field in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, May 25, 2024. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Aggies’ comeback falls short in 9-8 loss to Longhorns
Luke White, Sports Editor • May 25, 2024

As the fifth inning drew to a close in Texas A&M softball’s Super Regional matchup with No. 1 Texas on Saturday, the Aggies found themselves...

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
Southern slugfest
May 23, 2024
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Beekeeper Shelby Dittman scoops bees back into their hive during a visit on Friday, April 5, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Bee-hind the scenes
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • May 1, 2024

The speakers turn on. Static clicks. And a voice reads “Your starting lineup for the Texas A&M Aggies is …” Spectators hear that...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Scenes from 74
Scenes from '74
April 25, 2024
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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

A turnaround complete

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After a losing season in his first year at the helm of the Texas A&M women’s basketball program in 2003, an NCAA championship seemed far out of reach, even for a coach of Gary Blair’s stature. The Aggies’ downtrodden program, one that hadn’t enjoyed a winning campaign in the seven seasons before his arrival and continually finished at the bottom of the Big 12 standings, has now been resurrected to national prominence by a man who will forever be remembered as the first coach to bring an NCAA basketball trophy home to College Station.
Before Blair was hired for the 2003-2004 season, the women’s basketball program was at its lowest point. During Peggy Gillom’s tenure from 1998-2003, the Aggie women posted an overall record of 53-86 — and an abysmal 15-65 mark in conference play. The Gillom teams never fared better than ninth in the Big 12, and finished in 11th or 12th place for three consecutive seasons. Attendance dwindled to miniscule numbers, and the once successful program fell into relative obscurity. That’s when Athletic Director Bill Byrne decided it was time for a change.
Blair, a Dallas native, had found success at every level. His first job came at South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas in the ’70s, where he took his girls’ team to four Class 4A state championships, winning three, and compiled a 239-18 record.
He parlayed his high school success into a job at the next level — assistant coaching at Louisiana Tech. During his five seasons in Shreveport, from 1980-1985, the Lady Techsters reached the Final Four four times and cut down the nets on three of those occasions.
When Blair was lured back to Texas in 1985, he began working his magic on the Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks. Though the team had won in the past, his emphasis on offensive rebounding and staunch team defense took SFA to the next level.
“When I was at Stephen F. Austin (1985-93), there was a tremendous history five years prior to me being there with Sue Gunter,” Blair said in an interview with USA Today. “They were perennial Top 25 teams. All I had to do was pour a little lighter fluid on that to get the thing going.”
Notoriously self-deprecating, the head coach then took his talents to the University of Arkansas and once again led a team in the dumps to the top of the charts. He steered the Lady Razorbacks to their first winning season in several years during his first season as head coach, and took them all the way to the Final Four in the 1997-98 season.
“They had some recruiting problems there,” Blair said. “They brought myself in and I brought a good staff. We got it done.”
Finally, in 2003, Blair began his tenure as the head coach of the Texas A&M women’s basketball team. His first year produced a 9-19 record — his only losing season in 26 years of head coaching — but the program’s been winning ever since. Blair’s 188-79 record over the last eight seasons is nothing short of remarkable.
Looking back at history, nobody should be too surprised that Blair has coached the Aggie women to the first basketball title in school history.
He’s stuck to the same script since 1974 — taking losing programs and putting them back on the winning track.
And Aggieland is grateful for that.

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