Texas A&M University-San Antonio’s athletic department was granted $10 million by Bexar County and $100,000 from Frost Bank to kick start the development of their athletic facilities, which will be used by the university and Southside community for years to come.
Since the fall, A&M-San Antonio has steadily improved its program by building a softball and soccer field for its respective teams.
President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said the administration had been working for “several years” to get funding.
“We could compete on campus if we had our own (softball) stadium,” she said.
Matson says building a softball stadium, upgrading the soccer field and adding a multipurpose track are part of the university’s timeline.
Along with Matson, Darnell Smith, director of intercollegiate athletics, has been at the forefront of getting the funds needed to grow the department.
Last week, Frost Bank presented a $100,000 check in grants to A&M-San Antonio athletics for a recreational center on campus.
Smith said donors want to “help us build champions” by creating opportunities for future students to be able to play sports and earn a quality degree.
“When I say we’re ‘building champions,’ it’s building leaders,” he said. “It’s about winning in all phases…that’d be in the community, academics and athletics.”
Smith said the discussion of what the athletic department will look like started before he was hired and he credits the student body for expressing interest in having sports at the university.
“Because of them (student body), I am able to contribute toward that,” Smith said. “I’m in a position to help bring these things to fruition.”
Rebeca Clay-Flores, Bexar County Commissioner in Precinct 1, was one of the bigger advocates for A&M-San Antonio athletics.
Smith said he believes that Flores’s efforts to get the necessary funds for the department were important because it improves the “quality of life” for residents on the Southside by giving them access to facilities closer to home.
“For her to be able to share that vision…it’s just simply incredible,” Smith said.
Smith described getting the $10 million as an “out-of-body experience” because of how beneficial it will be for the student-athletes, the campus and residents of Bexar County.
The timeline for the construction of the facilities has yet to be confirmed because of constant delays, which has been a problem over the last year with the pandemic.
“There could be a rollout of the rec center in the summer or fall of 2024,” Smith said. “But I keep my fingers crossed that nothing delays that, so it’s hard to give a firm timeline for certain things.”
Smith described the university as “being blessed” because of the money it has received throughout the semester.
“I just have to appreciate the time we’re in now,” he said. “I appreciate the opportunity to be able to look to the future and be able to have an impact on people’s lives…I just summed it up to as blessed and not taking anything for granted.”