Boomer White follows his heart from TCU to Texas A&M.
Texas A&M’s historic season ends in the Sweet 16.
A final look at the A&M women’s basketball season.
With spring football complete, 12th Man Magazine explores some important questions facing the Aggies in 2016.
To learn how you can support Texas A&M's student-athletes through the 1922 Fund, please call the 12th Man Foundation Major Gifts staff at (979) 260-7595.
The pasts, presents and futures of Texas A&M and Mississippi State are more intertwined than many people realize.
Founded just two years apart--A&M in 1876 and Mississippi State in 1878--both were established after the passage of the Morrill Act and were developed to provide citizens with a place to learn about topics relating to agriculture, mechanical arts and military sciences, among other subjects.
Mississippi State was even initially termed The Agricultural and Mechanical College of the State of Mississippi and was commonly referred to as Mississippi A&M for many years.
The athletics programs of the two schools also share strong ties.
Two former A&M football coaches, Emory Bellard and Jackie Sherrill, spent a combined 20 years coaching the Bulldogs, with Sherrill being the winningest coach in school history. More recently, longtime A&M women's basketball assistant coach Vic Schaefer has led the Lady Bulldogs to an impressive run of success that included a trip to the Sweet 16 this year.
A&M and MSU also share another noteworthy similarity--the generous philanthropy of Jim and Julie Rouse.
Jim is a proud 1962 industrial management graduate of Mississippi State, while Julie attended the Mississippi State College for Women in nearby Columbus.
But the Rouse family's love affair with Texas A&M began in the 1980s when their daughter Lisa enrolled in the school as a freshman. Lisa quickly indoctrinated the couple's younger daughter, Connie, who eventually followed her sister's path to A&M.
Jim and Julie felt a connection to the school from the first time they walked on campus.
"As an old ROTC guy, hearing the Aggie Band for the first time was incredible," recalled Jim, who served two years of active duty in the Army and another six in the Army Reserves. "We really liked the atmosphere on campus, and it's such a unique institution."
The two first purchased season tickets to A&M football games in the early 1980s and have been regulars at Kyle Field ever since.
They have also made meaningful financial investments in several 12th Man Foundation fundraising projects, including the redevelopment of Kyle Field, the Bright Complex lobby renovation, Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park, the McFerrin Athletic Center, as well as multiple athletic academic endowments through the 1922 Fund.
The Rouses have also remained steadfast supporters of MSU, where Jim recently finished a three-year term as board president of the MSU Foundation. There, he helped oversee the academic fundraising activities and endowments totaling nearly $450 million.
"Our philosophy with giving (to A&M and MSU) is pretty simple. And that is we all need to give something back. We support academics and athletics at both schools. I can tell you that Texas A&M had quite a positive impact on how my two daughters turned out, just like Mississippi State did for me." -- Jim Rouse
Jim parlayed his experience at MSU into a 42-year career with Exxon. His first job with the company was about as entry-level as you can get: pumping gas in an Exxon service station.
He rose quickly through the ranks thanks to an unwavering work ethic and strong business sense before spending the final eight years as a corporate vice president in Washington D.C. In that role, he was involved in lobbying on behalf of Exxon both domestically and internationally.
"ExxonMobile conducts business in around 200 countries, so we tried to have a relationship in the embassies in all those countries where we did business," Rouse said. "Julie used to kid me that it was a two-tuxedo job because we had events each week that required a tux. But it was a great job and a wonderful capstone on my career. I met some wonderful people."
Rouse is now retired, and the couple's home near Houston serves as a base camp for their multiple trips to College Station and Starkville each year. Jim and Julie have season tickets to both A&M and MSU games, as well as season tickets for the Houston Texans.
That makes for a busy fall. The couple estimated they attended 17 football games last year. Now that A&M is a member of the Southeastern Conference, at least one weekend is dedicated to supporting their two favorite teams.
"Needless to say, maroon is the color that we have prominently throughout our house," Rouse said. "(When A&M plays Mississippi State), I'm pretty outnumbered. My wife and daughters and their families all root for A&M, but they courteously let me sit in my seat and cheer for the Bulldogs.
"You would think Julie must have gone to A&M with as much as she loves the Aggies. She's a great Aggie fan, but she is also good about chasing along with me to see games at Mississippi State, as well."
The family's ties to Aggieland continued to strengthen after their two daughter's enrolled. Both proudly earned diplomas from A&M and married fellow graduates. Lisa, Class of 1986, married Jeff Taylor '85, while Connie '90 married Bill Fuller '85 and '88.
A grandson, Scott Fuller, will attend A&M as a freshman in the upcoming fall semester. His arrival will give Jim, Julia and the rest of the family an additional reason to make the trip to College Station as often as possible.
"I kid Julie all the time, because I was a 2nd Lt. in the Army when we got married, so she didn't get a chance to finish school," Jim said. "I've been telling her she should take her old college transcript over to College Station to see if any of those credits will transfer to A&M."
In the meantime, the Rouses will continue supporting both A&M and MSU from their seats at Kyle Field and Davis-Wade Stadium.
They will also continue to change lives of students at both universities through their exceptional generosity.
"At Mississippi State, a significant number of our graduates are the first from their family to graduate from college," Jim said. "I don't know what the exact number is at A&M, but I bet it's a pretty high number, too. As it relates to both academics and athletics, every dollar we put in the pot is helping someone improve. The way we like to look at it is we are helping shape people's lives. Where could you better put your money as an investment?"
To those who support student-athletes by giving, I want to say thanks and gig 'em.
Without them, many young people who aren't financially stable or can't provide an education for themselves have a great opportunity. It makes A&M a better place."