For three generations, UNT and its athletic programs have helped shape the course of the January family’s lives.
In the fall of 1949, Don January (’53) was recruited by legendary golf coach Fred Cobb and helped North Texas win four consecutive NCAA championships from 1949 to 1952. As part of his scholarship he taught a beginning golf P.E. course, where he met Patricia “Pat” Rushing (’53), a student in his class.
“We started dating our sophomore year and we ended up together for 56 years — a good deal,” he says.
Don lived in the Quadrangle and Pat lived in Chilton Hall. Both majored in business and were active on campus. Pat was involved in Delta Chi Delta, while Don was president of Talons and a member of Kappa Alpha and the T Club.
“The golf course in fall ’49 was a nine-hole course — the same location where the new stadium is now being built,” he says. “We hung out at the clubhouse upstairs where there was a big dance floor, and outside on top of the hill lived the school mascot — a caged eagle.”
After graduating, Don and Pat eloped to Ardmore, Okla. They lived in San Antonio for a brief time, while Don was in the Air Force, and began their family — two boys and a girl.
“I’ve always been lucky,” he says.
Don’s professional golf career, which began in 1956, featured 10 PGA Tour victories, including the 1967 PGA Championship. On the Senior PGA Tour he won 23 events, including two PGA Seniors’ championships. He also designed golf courses.
Don is a Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Texas Golf Hall of Fame and UNT Athletic Hall of Fame inductee, and has always held UNT close to his heart. He’s the recipient of UNT’s Distinguished Alumnus and Outstanding Alumni Service awards. UNT’s athletic department hosted its 21st annual Don January Golf Classic in June — an event that raises money for the men’s and women’s golf teams.
“I try to give back because that’s part of the deal,” Don says. “I’m so glad that North Texas gave me the opportunity.”
Don’s oldest son, Tim (’79), followed his dad’s footsteps. After his dad’s advice, Tim enrolled at UNT.
“I was working as an assistant at a golf course in Mansfield and I wanted to play professional golf,” Tim says. “Dad said, ‘I’ll back you up if you go to North Texas and get your degree first.’”
After graduating, Tim played on the mini-tour and on the Asian tour and began a career in golf course development and design, helping build courses in the U.S., the Caribbean and Mexico.
And now, Tim’s son, Sean, is a senior sociology major and linebacker for the Mean Green football team. He transferred to UNT from Scottsdale Community College in 2009 to be near his grandfather after his grandmother died.
“We’re really looking forward to that first game in the fall,” says Tim.“For Sean to be playing in the new stadium as a senior, just as my dad was a senior when Fouts Field opened, is a meaningful coincidence.”
Sean says he’s proud to carry on the legacy.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the air,” he says. “With the new stadium and new coaching staff, there is a lot of hope and a bright future.”