Beloved Tech Football Family Member Jennie Bailey Has Passed Away


Everyone knows of people they wish they could have had the opportunity to meet. For most it is famous historical figures like Martin Luther King Jr. or Johnny Cash. But once in a while we hear about a regular person who changes the world not by leading social causes or changing the course of world history, but simply by loving everyone he/she comes in contact with, and we become jealous of those who experienced that love first hand.

Today, longtime Texas Tech football program employee Jennie Bailey lost her battle with brain cancer, and though I never met her, through the outpouring of love shown to her during her almost three-year-long battle, I feel like I have learned enough about this simple but amazing woman from Idalou, Texas to say that I wish I would have had the chance to know her.

According to her biography on the Texas Tech athletics website, Mrs. Bailey was the “right arm” to the assistant coaches. She helped them in a number of ways, such as scheduling official visits, compiling practice schedules, keeping player and recruit databases, helping with scouting reports etc. That would seem tedious to most. Yet by all accounts, for 28 years she not only worked behind the scenes to help improve the Texas Tech football program, she showed real and powerful love, life-changing love to those she served.

Robert Giovannetti, senior associate athletics director for external operations and strategic communications said in today’s Lubbock Avalanche Journal that, “She was a surrogate mother for students, and touched so many lives.”

Everyone in the football program and countless other student athletes seemed to gravitate towards this humble and kind woman known affectionately as “Mama Bailey.” Through her love and kindness, she exhibited a positive influence over student-athletes that were often far from home needing someone to love and guide them. Mrs. Bailey was the perfect person for that.

In a 2014 piece in the Avalanche Journal, former Texas Tech football player Steve Carr noted that, “When players come back before games, the only office that has a whole bunch of people standing outside of it is hers…”

What a person means to others, to those who’ve been touched by a special life, can easily be seen when that person is in trouble or faces challenges. Over the past few years, the Texas Tech family has organized a number of events to help raise money for Mrs. Bailey’s treatment costs.

The 2013 annual Texas Tech women’s football clinic alone raised thousands of dollars for Mrs. Bailey, and numerous other events were organized throughout the South Plains to help the woman that spent her life helping others.  Another fundraiser at a local restaurant raised funds in the neighborhood of $20,000 through donations and an auction.

During the pre-game senior day ceremonies at Tech’s last home game in 2014, Mama Bailey was there to greet each of the players as they entered the stadium. Standing next to head coach Kliff Kingsbury, Bailey was radiant as she bid farewell to the players who she had come to know and love over the past four years.

Most in the stadium, at least those who knew of Mrs. Bailey’s struggles, were aware of the possibility that the day would be her final Tech football game, and it was heartwarming to see her there one more time loving each player that ran through the tunnel, just as she had loved each of the over 3,000 players she served during her time at Tech.

It is fitting that the last group of coaches Mrs. Bailey served under was comprised of five of her former players. “We came back to coach this team and to do something special here. But maybe the real reason was so we could be here for Ms. Bailey.” assistant coach Mike Smith told

Since Mrs. Bailey’s diagnosis, supporters have worn purple bracelets inscribed with the New Testament verse Luke 8:50. On the bracelets, the words of Jesus say, “Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.”

Today, Mrs. Bailey is again well and whole in the arms of Christ. She no longer suffers and is celebrating at the banquet table of the Lord — a reward for a life lived in servitude to others. But the Texas Tech family is not whole. Rather, there is a hole in the hearts of everyone who knew and loved Jennie Bailey.

And for those like me who never met her, somehow we still feel a loss. Perhaps it is because we are all Red Raiders and no matter where we live, when we were in school, or where life has taken us, the collective heart of Texas Tech always has and always will beat as one.

Today that heart is breaking for the Bailey family, especially her husband Robert and son Geoff. But it is also beating with pride and gratitude for the simple fact that God chose to bless our university by showing us his love through the life of “Mama” Jennie Bailey.

In honor and memory of Mrs. Bailey.