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Friday, December 01, 2023 — Houston, TX

Jamey Rootes, sports management faculty, passes at 56

Photo courtesy Rice University

By Maria Morkas     8/30/22 11:20pm

Jamey Rootes, recently appointed director of the Hutchinson Leadership Initiative in sports analytics in the department of sports management, died in Houston on Aug. 21 at the age of 56. His wife, Melissa Rootes, shared the news on Monday, saying he had been battling mental health issues.

Rootes joined the Rice community July 1 and passed away the day before classes started. He planned to teach “Sales and Revenue Generation in Sport,” as well as supervise the internships in the Sport Analytics branch.

The Houston Texans of the NFL earned various accolades under his leadership, including the American Business Awards for Marketing Excellence and Crystal Awards from the Houston chapter of the American Marketing Association. The team also had 185 consecutive sold-out games, which was a record for the Texans. Rootes also developed Lone Star Sports and Entertainment, an agency that spurred some of Houston’s major sporting events such many international soccer matches and an annual football bowl game.

Sport management department chair Clark Haptonstall said that this is a terrible loss for both the sport management family and the Rice community.

“Though Jamey was only at Rice [for] a short time, he had generated unbelievable excitement among our students and was already inspiring them in ways I doubt he could have imagined,” Haptonstall, a friend of Rootes, said. “He will be greatly missed by us all.”

Sport management major Thomas Avalos, a Lovett College junior, said that he met Rootes on the Tuesday of Orientation Week. Even though he didn’t know Rootes for a long time, Avalos followed Rootes throughout his career and was specifically inspired to pursue sport management after reading his book, “The Winning Game Plan.” 

“A lot of the leadership principles and motivational principles that [Rootes] talked about in [his] book sounded very similar to what I experienced [during] my time in the Marine Corps,” Avalos said. “I told [Rootes] that when I read [his] book, it really made me feel like getting into the sport management program and trying to work in sports was just the right fit.”

Provost Amy Dittmar said that her thoughts and sympathies are with Rootes’ wife and family, and that his presence on campus will be missed.

“Rice and the Department of Sport Management will forever be grateful to Jamey for his willingness to share his time and wisdom with our students,” Dittmar said. “We will always remember his inspiring career achievements and remarkable warmth and accessibility.” 

Avalos said his amazing demeanor showed with the people he worked with and was probably the reason he was so successful in his career.

“[He was] the Michael Jordan of sports business,” Avalos said. “To have somebody like that at the Rice sport management program on our faculty – that takes the number one sports management program in the country and makes [it] unquestionably number one.”

Rootes is survived by his wife and two children, Chris and Caroline.

If you or anyone you know are thinking about suicide or experiencing a health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 

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