Dr. John Thornton
Executive Director, Texas A&M Coaching Academy
Athlete. Leaders. SEC Legend.
As the inaugural Director of the Texas A&M Coaching Academy, Dr. John Thornton brings a wealth of experience as an athlete, coach, and athletic administrator to the position. After playing high school and junior college basketball in San Antonio, Thornton came to Aggieland to play for Coach Shelby Metcalf. Thornton was the 1973-1974 Southwest Conference Newcomer of the Year after being the second-leading scorer and rebounder on the Aggie squad. In 1974-75, Thornton was the team captain and helped lead the Aggies to the 1975 SWC Championship title.
Taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to him by Texas A&M, Thornton graduated cum laude from Texas A&M in 1975. Thornton was named the Department of Education’s Distinguished Honor Award winner. Thornton spent two years as a graduate assistant basketball coach on Metcalf’s staff and earned his master’s degree in educational administration from Texas A&M. He would become the basketball head coach at Athens High School, spend a brief time at UT-San Antonio before taking the athletics director and head basketball coaching job at Hill Junior College in Hillsboro. In 1981, Metcalf would call and ask Thornton to serve as an assistant basketball coach. From 1981 until the 1990, Thornton would serve as Metcalf’s assistant helping the Aggies to one NCAA appearance (1987) and four NIT appearances. During the middle of the 1990 season, Thornton was asked to serve as interim head basketball coach and finished with a 5-7 mark as the Aggies’ head coach.
After finishing the 1990 basketball season, Thornton would turn his efforts to athletics administration with his focus on student-athlete development including academics, strength and conditioning as well as athletic training, financial aid assistance and community involvement. He headed up Aggie Athletes Involved (AAI) as well as the student-athlete advisory committee (SAAC) and was the chairman of the Professional Sports Counseling panel.
Drawing on his experiences as a student-athlete, teacher and coach, Thornton’s transition to athletics administration was seamless and he has thrived in that capacity. Thornton maintained a focus on education and was recognized by the student-athletes with an Award of Excellence, was named the Advisor of the Year in 2002, and was awarded the Tradition Council’s Spirit Award for his work in promoting traditions and making Texas A&M such a unique place. He earned his doctorate degree from Texas A&M in 1997 and received the 1998 Academic Inspiration Award by a vote of the Texas A&M Scholar-Athletes of the Year.
During his time in the Athletics Department, Dr. Thornton served as Senior Associate Athletic Director at Texas A&M for 12 years and was directly responsible for the Academic oversight portions of the Athletic Department. Dr. Thornton subsequently concluded his time in Athletics Administration as the Interim Athletic Director and guided Texas A&M’s entry into the Southeastern Conference before retiring. Dr. Thornton began his term as the Coaching Academy Director in November 2012.