Dr. J. William Davis is known as the father of the National Letter of Intent for college athletics.

J. William Davis
J William Davis.jpg

Dr. Davis was chairman of Texas Tech University's Athletic Council from 1948 to 1969. He created a form, the National Letter of Intent, to prevent coaches from pulling recruits from other schools. The form was adopted in 1964 by the College Commissioners Association.[1][2]

Education and careerEdit

Davis was educated at Tarleton State College, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas. He came to Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) in 1938 as a professor of government. Davis was named head of the department in 1944 and served in that position for twenty years. Dr. Davis served as president of the Border Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1953-1954. As chairman of the athletic council from 1948–1967, he was instrumental in getting Texas Tech into the Southwest Athletic Conference. As the schools representative to the SWC, he served as vice president and later president of that body. He was the SWC’s representative to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, where he served as vice president from 1967–1971. He was best known as the Father of the Letter of Intent, and he was founder and chairman of the steering committee for the Interconference Letter of Intent. Both the library in the Political Science Department at Texas Tech and the Athletic Dining Hall are named for him.

An expert on the Texas Constitution, Davis served from 1957-1961 on the Citizens Advisory Committee on Constitutional Revision. He wrote the definitive work on the Texas Lieutenant Governor, "And There Shall Also Be A Lieutenant Governor," 1967.

Personal lifeEdit

Davis married Edwena Barnes in 1933. Their children are James Thomas Davis of Spokane, Washington (deceased 2011); Carolyn Davis Kennedy of Marble Falls, Texas, and Donald B. Davis of Kerrville, Texas. The seven grandchildren are: Kyle Davis, Laura Davis Cook, Dana Davis Mott, King Mahon, Kirk Mahon, Jason Davis, and Jaylon Davis LeTendre.

Davis was Chairman of the Board of Stewards of St. John’s Methodist Church, a Sunday School teacher for the men’s class, President of the Lubbock Lions Club, and a recipient of the Liberty Bell Award from the Junior Bar Association of Lubbock. He served in many capacities throughout his life and received many honors and awards.