Rick Villarreal has established his place as one of the most progressive and successful athletics administrators in the nation. In 12 years as the Director of Athletics, Villarreal developed and brought to fruition the most extensive facility development plan in the history of North Texas Athletics. He is also responsible for creating the organizational foundation for a department that has seen unprecedented academic and competitive success during his tenure.
Since taking over on April 4, 2001, Villarreal has brought to realization a dream of the Mean Green community - an administrator who can raise money, build facilities, direct championship teams with quality coaches while helping develop the lives of student-athletes.
The ultimate recognition of Villarreal's success was realized when Conference USA announced that North Texas would be joining the flourishing league beginning in the fall of 2013. The undeniable achievement that Villarreal led North Texas to in the Sun Belt Conference was a critical factor in making the department and the university as a whole attractive to other leagues.
Villarreal led the Mean Green to a premiere position in the Sun Belt Conference, winning 18 conference championships and finishing among the top three in the Sun Belt Conference all-sports championship standings 10 out of the his 12 years.
In the fall of 2011, North Texas unveiled Apogee Stadium, the centerpiece of the Mean Green Village, which encompasses most of the academic, training and competition facilities for NT's nearly 400 student-athletes.The $78 million Apogee stadium project brought the university a multi-use facility with amenities comparable to the best in the nation. It was completed in time and on budget and also earned the prestigious LEED Platinum certification, making it the first newly constructed collegiate football stadium in the nation to earn the highest energy efficiency rating.
Villarreal is also responsible for building an $8 million athletic facility that houses a state-of-the-art training suite as well as administration and football offices to go along with football locker rooms. The Mean Green Village development project overseen by Villarreal included the acquisition of additional property and the renovation and construction of new venues for basketball (practice), soccer, softball, golf and volleyball as well as a new academic center for student-athletes. In all, Villarreal has overseen the development of more than 12 new facilities to help improve academic, athletic and social well-being of every Mean Green student-athlete.
Just as impressive and more important is the significant progress made in both academics and women's sports. Graduation rates have improved by over 60 percent for student-athletes in the past 12 years and the department's overall GPA eclipsed the 3.0 mark for the first time ever during the 2012-13 school year. 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 in recent years.
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 fund-raiser.
At Southern Miss, Villarreal served as a leading force in major gift fund-raising. He initiated the Circle of Champions, a group of donors that pledges at least $100,000 each. The Circle of Champions now stands at 61 members. He also spearheaded a fund-raising effort that resulted in the commitment of over $8 million, which resulted in the construction of a new athletic center, new baseball clubhouse and a women's softball stadium. Villarreal was also involved with plans for a future football stadium and renovation of the basketball arena.
Before moving into administration at USM, Villarreal was a football coach and football administrator from 1988 to 1997. He served as Director of Football Operations and Assistant Athletic Director at TCU for three years from 1995-1997 for coach Pat Sullivan. Villarreal served on the staff of Curly Hallman at LSU from 1991 to 1995 where he served in several different roles at LSU, starting as Director of Football Operations and Recruiting Coordinator and later coaching tight ends. He got his coaching start under Hallman at USM working from 1988 through 1990 as a student assistant and graduate assistant working with wide receivers, running backs and special teams.
Villarreal proved himself as a successful businessman as owner and operator of an eight-unit Domino's Pizza group in Decatur, Ala., and served as President of the Southeast Region Franchise Association (1984 -86). His company generated sales that exceeded $5 million annually and his stores were ranked in the top 20 percent in the country.
A native of Gulfport, Miss., and a 1975 graduate of St. John High School, Villarreal received his bachelor's degree in coach and sports administration from Southern Mississippi in 1989.
Rick and his wife D'Lynn are the parents of three children - Kimberly, Justinand Tony and have three grandchildren, Jayden, Katelyn and Harrison.