Keith Baxter Named Head Football Coach at Texas A&M-Kingsville
KINGSVILLE - December 07, 2006
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Keith Baxter speaks at a news conference Thursday after being
introduced as the new head football coach.
Texas A&M-University Kingsville Athletics Director Jill Willson announced December 7 that Keith Baxter has been named head football coach.
Baxter is just the eighth coach in the 82-year history of Javelina football.
In those 78 seasons the Javelinas have won seven national titles, 33 conference championships and have 547 victories. Texas A&M-Kingsville has won nearly 70 percent of its games, posting the second best winning percentage of any program in NCAA Division II history.
“Keith Baxter is the right person at the right time to be the head coach of the Javelinas,” says Texas A&M-University Kingsville President Rumaldo Z. Juárez. “I want to stress the core values Keith brings to the position. He shares our vision that student-athletes can and should be winners in all areas – on the football field, in the classroom, and as leaders in community service.”
“Our goal was to hire a coach who could lead our program back into contention for a national championship and implement a system that gives our student-athletes every opportunity to graduate,” says Willson. “We want a coach that will rally our community, alumni and current students and create an atmosphere that is second to none in NCAA Division II. It was also important to hire an innovative coach that will put an exciting product on the field. I am confident we will meet those goals with Keith.”
Baxter spent 16 years on the staff at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the first 12 as offensive coordinator and the last four as head coach.
“This is a great opportunity for myself and my family,” says Baxter. “The tradition and history of Javelina football is second to none, and the backing from the administration is impressive. Everybody at the university and in the community has been great. We have felt very welcome. I feel good about my family coming here. We are going to do our very best to keep the tradition alive and growing at Texas A&M-Kingsville.”
From 2000 through 2004, Baxter led Southeastern to a 25-16 record as head coach, including a mark of 22-9 over his final three seasons, which culminated in an appearance in the NCAA Division II championship playoffs in 2004.
Baxter expects to use the same elements that made Southeastern Oklahoma a success at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
“We used a team-building approach to achieve the success we had at Southeastern,” says Baxter. “The success that we had was due to the players, the coaching staff and the administration. We want to develop kids into strong role models. We want our players to be proud to be graduates of Texas A&M-Kingsville.”
Baxter took over as head coach after the team posted a 1-9 record in 2000 and made an immediate improvement to 3-7, despite losing four games by a touchdown or less.
In his next two seasons the Savages posted consecutive 7-3 marks, the best single-season winning percentage for the school since 1994.
The 2004 team shared the Lone Star Conference North Division title and advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs for the first and only time in school history since making the move to NCAA Division II status in 1998. It was also the school’s first postseason playoff bid since 1988.
Of the 18 head football coaches in Southeastern Oklahoma history, Baxter has the third highest winning percentage of any coach that was at the school at least three seasons.
Baxter and his staff were also responsible for signing several current Southeastern stars including All-LSC North Division co-Offensive Back of the year quarterback Justin Pitrucha and LSC North Division Offensive Lineman of the Year Rayshaun Hollings.
Baxter’s offenses have always been prolific, averaging just short of 420 yards per game in his final three seasons as head coach.
His 2004 squad set school records for most yards of total offense (4,780), most points scored (432) and passing touchdowns (26).
Southeastern quarterback Drew Beard earned All-America honors in 2004 after setting school career records for total offense, rushing touchdowns and passing touchdowns.\
Beard was also a 2003 and 2004 finalist for the Harlon Hill Award, given annually to the top player in NCAA Division II.
Beard has high praise for his former coach.
“He is a champion on the field and off the field,” says Beard. “He gave everyone including the coaches a chance to succeed. He lets you become a great player. He doesn’t hold you back. Very rarely did he ever say, ‘don’t do something.’ That’s an exciting feeling.”
Beard is also a big believer in Baxter’s offense.
“It’s an exciting offense, especially if you are a quarterback that enjoys being a leader. Once you know his offense, he gives it to you. He does a great job of teaching it.”
Baxter coached the program’s top receiver, Romar Crenshaw who set school career marks for receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and all-purpose yards.
Six different Southeastern players earned All-America honors during Baxter’s tenure as head coach.
In his four years as head coach, 31 different players earned either first or second team All-Lone Star Conference honors.
Baxter was named the Lone Star Conference North Division Coach of the Year in 2004.
“Keith is an excellent football coach,” says former Angelo State football coach Jerry Vandergriff. “He did a great job at Southeastern and he’ll do a fine job at Texas A&M-Kingsville. His offense is extremely versatile and he has a great system. He always had a very disciplined football team and they executed very well. They gave us fits.”
Prior to becoming head coach at Southeastern Oklahoma, Baxter was the school’s offensive coordinator for 12 seasons. The team had the number one offense in the Lone Star Conference in 1995 and the top offense in the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Conference in 1994 and 1995. Southeastern was ranked second in the nation in total offense in 1995 and fourth in 1994.
Baxter served on the staff at New Mexico State for two seasons (1987-88) prior to his move to Southeastern and was a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, during the 1985 and 1986 seasons.
He was the starting quarterback at Northwestern Oklahoma for four seasons as well as a starter on the Ranger baseball team.
Baxter received both his undergraduate (1986) and graduate (1992) degrees from Northwestern Oklahoma State.
For the past year and a half, Baxter has been the Executive Director of Leadership and Training at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
He and his wife, Teenie, have two daughters, Ashley (15) and Kaylie (12).
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