It didn’t take long for R.C. Slocum to jump into his role as Texas A&M’s interim athletic director.
“I went to work immediately on the job,” laughed Slocum after a full day of interaction with the men’s golf coach J.T. Higgins, his players and program donors at a fundraiser. “I’ve been working all afternoon.”
Slocum had a meeting with A&M president Michael K. Young on Friday morning, getting full autonomy over the program, then headed to the golf course knowing he’s taking over a program with no need for immediate changes.
“I think we’ve got great coaches in place,” Slocum said. “We’ve got great programs in place to support our student-athletes. And I’ve always felt an AD’s number one role is just to support the coaches. An AD’s role is not to be an out front kind of guy. Some people would disagree with that, but I’ve lived it. Over the years, I’ve watched it at other schools and the successful programs. The ADs were working hard to provide support for their coaches, trying to push the coaches out front and let the coaches be the ones who get the credit and do whatever they can to support the coaches.”
Slocum, the school’s winningest football coach at 123-47-2 from 1988-2002, started his association with A&M as an assistant coach in 1972. He’s been a special assistant to the president since 2002 and has worked with seven different ADs.
Slocum will bring stability to a program that was caught off-guard when Scott Woodward, who had been on the job three years and three months, was hired away by LSU in a matter of hours.
“We’re not falling off a cliff. Everything is fine at A&M and fine in our athletic department,” Slocum said. “In college athletics and life, changes are inevitable. You don’t know when they’re going to come, but when they do come, the best thing you can do is have a positive reaction to them and move forward. And that’s what we’re doing at A&M. We’ll do everything we can to support our athletes and support the coaches.”
Slocum said A&M has a great football coach in Jimbo Fisher and just added an outstanding men’s basketball coach in Buzz Williams.
“All the coaches here are top-notch coaches in their field,” Slocum said. “I’ve watched this now for 40-some years, and I’d say we’re better situated now than we’ve ever been in terms of our athletic programs, and you can say that about the university as a whole.”
Slocum credited the donors for supplying the funds needed to upgrade the facilities in the last 10-15 years to give the coaches a vital part of what they need to be successful.
“I think everything is very positive for A&M’s athletic program, and I’m honored to be asked to do this,” Slocum said. “And I did it without hesitation. I’m glad to do it.”
Slocum had a close relationship with Woodward which should make the transition easier.
“I appreciate him,” Slocum said. “He did a great job. He was very, very nice to me. I was involved. I went to a lot of the away games and sat in the box with him, and we had ongoing conversations when he was here. He reached out to me on several occasions to just sit down and talk. I really appreciate his friendship, and I admire what he did at Texas A&M.”
Young said in a press release that it was important to have an interim AD who is intimately familiar with the inner workings of college athletics and A&M.
Slocum is a Hall of Famer who never had a losing season, and he’s also currently a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Many on social media are pushing for the 74-year-old Slocum to have the interim tag removed, but he says that’s not going to happen.
“I took the job saying I’d be glad to be the interim, and there’s no timeframe,” Slocum said. “I told them the day you want me to step aside, I’ll be out of here. It was fully, totally understood that it was an interim position.”