JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
SAN ANTONIO — Lifelong friends and family members came far and wide to help honor former University of Houston and University of Texas-San Antonio athletics director Rudy Davalos on Aug. 15.
Davalos received the Lamar Hunt Lifetime Achievement award from the Texas Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to Texas sports as an athlete, coach and administrator during a reception.
The Horseshoe Bay resident’s children and all but one grandchild were in attendance to watch numerous sports figures, including former basketball coach and commentator Dick Vitale and sportscaster Jim Nantz, extend their congratulations on video interviews.
Leading the applause in person were former University of Texas athletics director Deloss Dodds and former Texas Tech University head football coach Spike Dykes.
“He’s been a dear friend,” said Dodds, who also lives in the area. “We’re glad to be retired in an area where we can get together. In everything he’s done, he’s been first class. He makes friends faster and easier than anyone I know.”
Texas Sports Hall of Fame President and CEO Jared Mosley said Davalos has impacted many in various sports throughout his career. In addition to being the athletics director at UTSA and Houston, he also worked for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, was the assistant coach for the University of Kentucky under Adolph Rupp, and was the head coach at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. His last job was the athletics director at the University of New Mexico.
“Your influence on the next generation of men and women who compete at that level is remarkable,” Mosley said. “How you lead and guide, you should be proud.”
Also in attendance were various members of the 1960 Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University) men’s basketball team that captured the NAIA national championship with Davalos as a player. The Bobcats beat Westminster 66-44.
“These reunions have been a big deal,” teammate Don Schmeltekopf said. “Rudy was a tough competitor and a tough dude. I had to guard him in practice. He was the leader of the team when it existed, and he still is today.”
Davalos summed up the various sports figures in attendance and on videos by honoring his parents. The two came to the United States from Mexico when they were in middle school. They emphasized education and learning proper English to their children. Davalos said very few people called him names, but the times it did happen was on the playing field when he was winning.
“People don’t call you anything unless you’re beating them,” he said with a laugh.
He added that people have treated him well throughout his life, and he believes sports helped him develop friendships that impacted him for decades.
“I had teammates who believed in me,” he said. “Sports have been wonderful to me.”