If you’ve read stories from Texas games or watched Longhorns athletics over the past six decades, you’ve been impacted either directly or indirectly by the work of Bill Little, the university’s longtime and legendary athletics administrator and sports information director.
Little, who’s name adorns the press boxes at both Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and Disch-Faulk Field, passed away on Friday from natural causes at age 81.
He is survived by his wife Kim Scofield, three children and 10 grandchildren – and influenced the dozens of sports information directors who learned under him through his career of promoting sports and informing the masses about the teams, games and players we watch and cheer for.
No one knew more about Texas sports and Little was always available for the media to assure accuracy and antidotal reference. Little set the standard for excellence and longevity that will be difficult – if not impossible – to match.
How you’ve received your news about Longhorns’ sports in the written and broadcast media since 1968 – including the story you are reading at this moment – has been a direct result of Little’s input, expertise and tutelage.
His professional life is detailed here in a release from the National Football Foundation, with some editing and additions:
Little was the sports editor at The Daily Texan while on the 40 Acres and began his professional career as a sportswriter for the Austin American Statesman after graduating from UT in 1964. He proceeded to work at the Associated Press as the sports editor and night editor of the AP bureau in Oklahoma City.
In 1968, he returned to his alma mater, becoming assistant sports information director, and he would work in Texas media relations until his retirement in 2014. He served in numerous positions, including Sports Information Director, Assistant Athletics Director and finally as Special Assistant to the Head Football Coach for Communications.
Little apprenticed under the legendary Texas’ sports information director John Ramsey, who he succeeded in 1982, and Little carried on Ramsey’s tradition of meeting every media request with aplomb. Little became a confident of some of the most significant figures in the history of UT athletics, including Hall of Fame coach Darrell Royal, head football coach Mack Brown and athletics director DeLoss Dodds. At the time of his retirement, Marian Dozier, a longtime supporter of Texas Athletics and a close friend of Little’s, donated the funds to rename both the baseball and football press boxes in his name.
Little broadcast more than 1,700 Texas baseball games. He accompanied Longhorn football teams to 37 bowl games and staffed a record 521-straight football games. He worked with three national championship football teams (1969, 1970, 2005), two Heisman winners (Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams) and two runners-up, more than 100 players who earned all-America honors and 225 all-conference selectees. During his tenure, Texas boasted nine NFF National Scholar-Athletes, two NFF William V. Campbell Trophy recipients and ten College Football Hall of Fame inductees.
He also served as the public address announcer at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for Texas’ home football games for more than a decade.
Little is a member of the Longhorn Hall of Honor and the Big Country Sports Hall of Fame in Texas. He has authored or co-authored nine books and dozens of award-winning magazine and web commentaries, and he has been recognized by his peers in college sports media relations as a member of the College Sports Information Directors’ Hall of Fame and winner of the organization’s most coveted honor—the Arch Ward Award.
His other CoSIDA accolades include the Lester Jordan Award in 1996, “for exemplary service…and the promotion of the ideals of being a student-athlete” and a prestigious CoSIDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.
The Football Writers Association of America honored him with their Lifetime Achievement award in 2015, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association awarded him the Wilbur Snypp Award “for outstanding contributions to college baseball” in 1991.
Little’s passing has created, and will continue to create, a hole in the Longhorns’ athletic community. Tributes to his work and legacy have flooded onto social media. To wit:
From Little’s successor as sports information director John Bianco, Texas’ Senior Associate Athletics Director/Communications:
From Mack Brown, coach at North Carolina:
From Chris Plonsky, Texas’ Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief of Staff
And from Mike Finger, peerless columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, who perhaps said it best:
Rest in Peace, Bill. Here’s hoping you are hanging out with Mr. Ramsey and Coach Royal and Augie and keeping us in line from above. Lord knows we will need it.