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Texas Tech Legend: Polk Robison

So I've been able to do some more digging on what Polk Robison meant to Texas Tech University and he is certainly a man whose life should be celebrated by all fans of Texas Tech. It's tough to figure out where to start when trying to sum up the acts of a man who meant so much to a university, but I'll do my best.

Up first, I'd start with KMAC28's story and write up on Robison. It takes you from Robison's birth in Tennessee, to Lubbock High School, to his time at Texas Tech. Don't forget to watch the video. I loved the interaction that Bob Knight had with Robison, there is genuine affection on Knight's part and keep in mind that Robison interviewed a young Bob Knight (while still at Army) but declined to offer the General.

We also have the same article that Hyatt mentioned from LAJ's Don Williams, celebrating Robison's 90th birthday and I loved Robison's opening line about what he brought to him at Texas Tech as the country was facing the Depression in 1929:

"My goodness," Robison said, "if you had a couple of pair of corduroys to go to school in you were pretty lucky. And a letter sweater or two. I don't believe there were a dozen cars on campus at that time. In fact, I often thought I couldn't remember but about three students that had cars. We did a lot of walking."

Quite a contrast to the world as we know it.

LAJ's Burle Pettit also celebrated Robison's 90th birthday. Pettit starts in 1960 when he arrived in Lubbock as a sportswriter and the article quite plainly details Polk's contributions to Texas, Tech, these two quotes seemed to correctly demonstrates Robison's administration as athletic director:

What Texas Tech has become, athletically, might never have happened except for the wisdom, vision and, of greatest import, dogmatic stubbornness of Polk Fancher Robison.


Polk did have his supporters, including such stalwarts as Parker F. Prouty, Chuff Benton, Bob Fuller and others, who subscribed to Robison's philosophy that a program had to be built on solid footing. He preached "integrity" to those who screamed for loosening the recruiting criteria and "financial prudence" to a staff of coaches struggling on a shoestring.

"We operate under the PFR plan," assistant coach and resident humorist Berl Huffman once quipped at a Red Raider Club luncheon. "And it's a rather simple plan that sez 'Don't spend no money—just work like hell!"'

Take the time to read this whole article.

One more article from Burle Pettit, that needs to be read, this one penned in February of this year, detailing Robison's interviewing Bob Knight when he was at West Point and Robison deciding to get some one more local (also of note, Robison is mistaken for JT King, which may explain why Knight seemed to have such a smile with his arm around Robison) to Robison's recruitment of Gerald Myers as a basketball player and later as his head coach. Again, a must read:

Tech was about to lose a star basketball player who they had successfully recruited earlier. Only this time, it was Oklahoma A&M, not OU, and the thought of playing for the legendary Hank Iba, not illegal incentives that were the culprits.

THIS PLAYER had been an all-everything at Borger, a basketball power under the illustrious Tex Hanna, so Polk was understandably reluctant to let him slip away ... even to the irrepressible Iba.

Enlisting the aid of the player's father, who really wanted him to come to Tech, Robison responded. He and Gibson, his assistant coach, headed out to Stillwater - perhaps under the cover of darkness (I've heard several versions of the story) - brought the hot shooting guard back to Tech, where he became the school's first all-SWC performer in any sport.

Not only is he still here, he's running the athletic department.

I'll end with a couple of articles on the relationship between Robison, Myers and Knight. The first from the LAJ's Randy Rosetta on the opening of the United Spirit Arena, going into great detail of Texas Tech's very first game of the Lubbock Municipal Coliseum against Kansas State and a second article by LAJ's Jeff Walker on Myers' number 22 being retired in 2005 to go along with Robison's number 1 also in the rafters. This is from Knight:

"These are two people that have given so much of their lives to Texas Tech," Knight said. "In each case, they have made as much of a contribution to the university as they did to the game of basketball. It's something that they both were a player, a coach and the athletic director here at Texas Tech."


"(Robison and Myers) have been the two most instrumental people in the development of Texas Tech," Knight said. "I have as much respect for the two of them as I do for anyone I know."

I also wanted to point out an old audio interview with Robison in the oral history department of the library. I'd love to see something like that online and if anyone gets the opportunity to listen to this, I'd love a full report. There's something special to hearing a man describe his life in his own words.