May 21, 2012
First Latino Athletics Director in the Sun Belt Conference
Rick Villarreal became the first Latino athletics director in the Sunbelt Conference when he took over the reins of the department in 2004. In just eight short years, Villarreal has helped raise funds, build facilities, direct championship teams with quality coaches, while helping develop the lives of Mean Green student-athletes.
Since coming to North Texas, Villarreal has led the Mean Green to a premiere position in the Sun Belt Conference. There have been 12 conference championships in his tenure and North Texas has finished among the top three in the Sun Belt Conference all-sports championship standings six out of eight years.
Just as impressive and more important is the significant progress made in both academics and women’s sports. Graduation rates have improved by 50 percent to over 60 percent for student-athletes in the past eight years and the department’s current overall GPA is the highest of his tenure. In addition, the program, which upon his arrival lacked facilities and other components essential to success in women’s sports, has been recognized by the Penn State Gender Equity Report Card as the No. 1 program in the country the last two years.
Further evidence of Villarreal’s leadership was his service on the Sun Belt Conference Executive Committee that concluded in 2008. He also recently completed stints on the NCAA Div. I Managment Council and the NCAA Membership Committee. He currently serves as the Sun Belt representative on the board of NCAA Football and was just appointed to a three-year term on the NCAA Championships Committee.
Villarreal came to Denton after three years at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he served as associate athletic director. He has also been a successful coach, football administrator, private businessman and athletic department fundraiser.
Rick and his wife D’Lynn are the parents of three children – Kimberly, Justin and Tony and have one grandson, Jayden Tyler.