Ben Rikard, most recently the Assistant Director of Media Relations at Stephen F. Austin State University, has been named Texas A&M University-Commerce's Director of Media Relations, according to an announcement by the athletic department Tuesday.
Rikard will serve as the primary contact for football, men's basketball, softball and golf, while overseeing the Lion athletics media relations staff.
"I am excited to be joining the Lion Athletics family, especially during a time when the department as a whole is on such an upswing," Rikard said. "I knew when A&M-Commerce hired Ryan (Ivey) that if an opportunity presented itself to jump on board, that it would be something I was interested in pursuing. Fortunately, that opportunity happened and hopefully I will be able to only add to the quality staff that is already in place here."
A graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University, Rikard earned a bachlor's degree in communications in 2006, concentrating in radio/TV with a minor in journalism. He has since spent the past six seasons at his alma mater, most recently as the contact for men's basketball, baseball, volleyball and cross country. He also served for two season's as the play-by-play voice for Lumberjack baseball, while also serving in the same capacity for men's and women's basketball.
While at SFA, Rikard worked alongside a number of well-respected SIDs, including James Dixon (currently Assistant AD at Lamar University), Kenny Bybee (currently at Rice University), Kyle Rogers (currently at SFA) and Brian Ross (Ross Designs), while being a part of many highs of Lumberjack athletics. Those highlights included a pair of Southland Conference football titles in 2009 and 2010. He was also part of the public relations team who spearheaded the campaign for Jeremy Moses' winning the Walter Payton Award (top player in FCS) in 2010, making him the first Southland Conference player to win such an award.
He spent the 2010-11 season as women's basketball contact before moving over to cover the Lumberjack men's basketball team in 2011-12 and 2012-13 and was there every step of the way as SFA claimed just its third ever Southland Conference crown in 2013. That season the 'Jacks went 27-5, advancing to the finals of the Southland Conference Tournament and had its season end by just a point in the first round of the NIT at Stanford. That season the 'Jacks played seven TV games, which was more than any other season in program history, while Taylor Smith took home the league's player of the year award as one of three 'Jacks to earn all-league honors.
Rikard also served as baseball and volleyball contact for each of his six years, including five of the school's six baseball berths in the Southland Conference Tournament. He helped promote a pair of 'Jacks to SLC player of the year and all-America honors in Bryson Myles (2011) and Hunter Dozier (2013), being right there for Dozier's historical 2013 that ended in him being selected eighth overall in the MLB Draft to the Kansas City Royals – the highest drafted player in the history of the Southland Conference.
In volleyball, Rikard worked alongside longtime coach Debbie Humprheys and was there when the Ladyjacks eclipsed the Southland Conference record of 62 consecutive league victories in a row. He also helped the Ladyjacks to nine all-conference honors in his tenure and was there when SFA advanced to the SLC Tournament finals in 2007 and 2009.
Rikard also had a strong hand in SFA's social media surge in the past two seasons, taking over SFA Athletics' Facebook and Twitter accounts when each had less than 500 Likes and Followers and seeing each rise to nearly 4,000 Likes and Followers before his departure.
Prior to his time at SFA, Rikard spent a year in the media relations department at the University of North Texas, serving as the primary contact for Mean Green volleyball and track and field teams, while also assisting with UNT football, basketball and softball. The highlight of that season was being courtside when the Mean Green won the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in 2007 to advance to just the second NCAA Tournament in program history. He was able to go along with the team to its NCAA first-round contest in New Orleans, where the Mean Green took on the Memphis Tigers, an eventual Elite Eight team that year.