Former track great recalls career

Dr. Bob Agee, Union’s Hall of Fame nominee who participated in two cross-country championships, shows off the first Union athletic letter given to the cross-country team in 1956. Agee jokes about getting the very first letter ‘not because I was the best, but because my name starts with an A,’ he said. | Photo by Ebbie Davis

By James Summerlin

When Dr. Bob Agee, former Union vice president and later president of Oklahoma Baptist, was told he would be  part of the 2010 class to be inducted into Union’s sports Hall of Fame, he said there was nobody more shocked than him.

Agee will be inducted for his participation in cross-country as well as track and field. Agee said he will dedicate his induction to his coach, Al Allen, and his teammates. In his time at Union, from 1956 to 1960, he received eight athletic letters, including the first letter awarded for Union cross-country. Agee received it because of his last name’s alphabetical advantage.

“I didn’t win it because I was the best runner,” Agee said. “I got it because my name starts with ‘A.’”

Agee originally wanted to play baseball as a shortstop, but at the time Robin “Muggs” Coffman already played the position, arguably the best shortstop in the state at the time and a Union Hall of Fame inductee in 2009. When Agee was told  he was not going to be playing baseball, he was encouraged to talk to, Allen to join a track program Allen was starting that year.

In those four years, Agee’s team won four straight conference titles and participated in two national championship meets in 1958 and 1959. The first year in the team’s existence, there were no scholarships given and only two out of seven runners had run track or cross–country before.

“Individually, we were pretty good,” Agee said. “As a team we were unbeatable. We made each other better than what we would have been ordinarily.  We just found a way to win.”

After Agee’s time at Union, he continued to pursue his call to ministry and received his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degree at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

His career path led him to pastor churches before finding his calling in Christian education. In 1975, he served as the dean of religious affairs at Union. Four years later, he was promoted to the vice president of religious affairs and special assistant to the president for institutional planning.

While he was on staff at Union, he developed the R.G. Lee Center for Christian Ministries and the seminary satellite program, as well as taught classes in the School of Theology and Missions on preaching and Southern Baptist life.

Agee became OBU president in 1982 and changed the program. During his presidency, OBU increased enrollment by 70 percent, built 11 new buildings, renovated 12 buildings  and grew the endowment from $11 million to $60 million.

His love for sports and Christian education came through at OBU. The women’s cross-country team won two national titles and the men won one title.

“Christian higher education became my passion long ago,” Agee said. “It became my field of ministry. People would say, ‘Why did you leave the ministry? You were doing good.’ I said, ‘I didn’t leave the ministry.’  Ministry isn’t what you do. It’s where you do it. I never left the ministry.”

Agee now resides in Jackson with his wife, Nelle,  and is part of the Union Booster Club. He still supports Union athletics.

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