Aerial view of TAMU

Update on Plans to Celebrate the Lone Star Showdown

General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III
President

June 4, 2024

Members of the Aggie Family,

As you may recall, we formed a special exploratory committee last fall to study and recommend ways to appropriately commemorate the return of the university’s storied football rivalry with The University of Texas at Austin (t.u.).

The committee, co-chaired by General Joe Ramirez, vice president for student affairs, and Texas A&M University System Regent John Bellinger, recently provided me with their recommendations. I’m grateful for the committee’s dedication to this effort and for the detailed recommendations they provided on how Texas A&M University can best celebrate the return of the Lone Star Showdown on Nov. 30, 2024, after a 12-year hiatus.

Among the committee’s recommendations were several proposed celebratory events leading up to the game — including a golf tournament and a “Rivalry Run” to carry the game ball from the State Capitol to College Station, with proceeds benefiting military veteran resource groups at both universities — as well as several other pre- and in-game plans that will be sure to add to the camaraderie, spirit and friendly competition of one of the greatest sporting rivalries of all time. I’ve asked the committee to begin working with university staff to build out the concepts suggested, and we look forward to announcing those plans soon.

The committee also recommended that we reinstitute the annual Bonfire tradition with an engineer-designed, contractor-built bonfire on West Campus. However, after careful consideration, I have decided it is not in the best interest of Texas A&M and the Aggie Family to bring Bonfire back to campus. I heard from many of you, as well as former students and friends of the university on this topic, and I thank you for your honest, thoughtful feedback. While the input varied, the majority of those who reached out were not in favor of reinstituting Bonfire. Among those who supported bringing Bonfire back, most highlighted the bonding experience and leadership and organizational skills learned by student body participants during the cut and build phases of Bonfire. Therefore, if students weren’t organizing, leading and building the Bonfire, then they didn’t think we should bring it back. The committee was also clear in its position that the only legally viable option for the return of the campus Bonfire was for it to be an engineer-designed, contractor-built project. After careful consideration, I decided that Bonfire, both a wonderful and tragic part of Aggie history, should remain in our treasured past.

The lives of the 12 Aggies lost and 27 injured on Nov. 18, 1999, are commemorated at the Bonfire Memorial, and that sacred place will remain the centerpiece of how we remember the beloved tradition and the dedication of those involved in the tragic 1999 collapse. I look forward to joining many of you at Bonfire Remembrance this year at 2:42 a.m. on Nov. 18 to honor our fallen Aggies on the 25th anniversary of their loss. We will continue to hold them and their families close at that event and always.

As we look forward to football season and welcoming t.u. to the SEC this fall, we will continue to celebrate the many traditions that unite Aggies and add some new activities to help reignite a rivalry that has shaped our university in so many ways. I thank the committee once again for their creativity and hard work, and I can’t wait to announce the new activities this fall!

Thank you, and as always, I look forward to hearing from you at president@tamu.edu.

Gig ’em!

r/mark
General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, President