Biography of Carlton Cooper
Carlton Cooper is in his fifth year as the athletic director at Texas A&M University-Commerce after spending the previous nine years working for the athletic department at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He comes with an extensive athletic background as a former student-athlete and as a supervisor of internal and external affairs within intercollegiate athletics.
Under Cooper’s leadership at A&M-Commerce, the athletic department has already made significant strides in becoming a national leader in athletics. The athletic department has seen a rise in graduation rates among its student-athletes, the installation of air conditioning to the A&M-Commerce Field House and lights to the A&M-Commerce Soccer Field, implemented a compliance education program, increased community engagement and community awareness, organized a football game to be played at the Cotton Bowl during the Texas State Fair, negotiated an all-school contract agreement with Nike, launched an enhanced web site and initiated an athletic director’s breakfast for student-athletes who earn a 3.0 or higher grade-point average during the year.
Cooper and the athletic department have also brought in instructional/motivational speakers to talk with the student-athletes, started a kickoff luncheon for fall and spring sports, seen an increase in tailgating at home games and renewed the Blue-Gold football scrimmage at the end of spring football practice.
Under his leadership, there have been many significant facility enhancements including a brand new football locker room, renovations to the coaches and athletic administration offices as well as the locker rooms and the athletic training and rehabilitation room. Recently, the A&M-Commerce Field House added new basketball goals and a new court.
Under his leadership, seven individuals have earned All-American honors and 28 have received all region recognition. Lions’ student-athletes have also picked up 50 first team all-Lone Star Conference honors, 30 to the second team and 21 honorable mention.
Academically, three Lions have earned Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors, including a pair from men's basketball, making A&M-Commerce the only school in the country at the Division I, II or III level to have a pair of Academic All-Americans. In addition 12 Lions have garnered academic all-district accolades with, 25 being named to their respective LSC All-Academic Teams, including a pair of Lone Star Conference Academic Players of the Year.
Cooper has also hired Mark Pryor, the 2009 Lone Star Conference Volleyball Coach of the Year and Guy Morriss, the 2009 Lone Star Conference North Division Coach of the Year.
In his second year, in 2008, the women’s soccer team reached the third round of the NCAA Tournament, four members of the track and field team qualified for the NCAA Championships, the men’s golf team qualified for the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament.
Cooper served as the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Internal Operations at SMU from 2000 to 2007, where he was responsible for the coordination of day-to-day internal operations of the athletic department while assisting the director of athletics in supervising and providing leadership for department initiatives. He was involved in the development of long-range and annual operating plans. From 1998 to 2000, Cooper served as the SMU’s Community Relations Director.
He founded the National Youth Sports Program (NYSP) for SMU and developed the curriculum for the SMU PIKE Big Brother Program (SMU/Dallas Public Schools Tutoring and Mentoring program). Cooper designed “Reading Our Way to College”, a reading program for DISD fourth grade students and created the SMU/MLK (Martin Luther King Center) “Road to the Pros” career lecture series featuring national sports, education and business leaders.
Cooper holds memberships to a number of organizations and has served as a board member for the Dallas All-Sports Association, SMU Advisory Board for the new student recreation center, Longhorn Hall of Honor, SMU Ex-Student Association, and the University of Texas Ex-Student Association. In the past, he has been active on the NCAA Championship Cabinet and is also involved in the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Dallas Asian and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, NACDA and the University of Texas Longhorn Foundation.
The Paris, Texas native was added to the Wall of Fame at the Boys and Girls Club of the Red River Valley in the spring of 2007. Cooper played college basketball at the University of Texas from 1982 to 1985 and was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. He went on to serve as a player/coach in the Netherlands, New Zealand and Philippines before returning to Paris in 1994 to become the Head Boys Basketball Coach and with Assistant Principal duties. Cooper earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Texas in 1985.
A two-time member of the Dean’s List, he received the Texas Teacher Certificate in 1985 as well. Cooper collected a graduate certificate in mediation/arbitration from SMU in 2000 and earned a Master’s of Liberal Arts degree from SMU in December 2001. Cooper was a four-year letterwinner of the men’s basketball team at Texas, where he also was an assistant coach when they won a regular season conference title in 1986.
He is the son of Clarence and Barbara Cooper of Paris, He has four children, Brandon, Danielle, Chanel and Ava.