John Michael Sanders

September 17, 1943September 10, 2020

John Michael (Mike, Hoot) Sanders passed away September 10, 2020 in Austin, TX. He was born September 17, 1943 in Dallas, TX to Durell “Tony” and Fairys Walker Sanders. He attended school in Roby and Seminole, TX where he excelled in football and track. He was a captain of the football team and served as class president. As a testament to his grit he was awarded “The Fighting Heart” award for his determination on the football field. He went on to graduate from Abilene Christian University and was one of 51 members of the first class to graduate from Texas Tech School of Law.

Mike began what would be 47 years of service at Texas Tech in 1970 as an assistant professor teaching business, real estate, and accounting law classes in the College of Business. He also established a private law practice a year later. He was an original owner of Fat Dawgs which became a Lubbock institution.

In 1975 he took his first staff position with the University as a director under VP Bill Parsley which started his longstanding work in governmental relations for higher education. During his tenure he went through 20 regular legislative sessions, the TTUHSC was formally created by the Texas legislature, saw the formal establishment of the TTU System by the State of Texas in 1999, and the addition of Angelo State University and TTUHSC-El Paso. He was named VP of Governmental Relations in 1988 and became the 1st Vice Chancellor of Governmental Affairs when the TTU System was formed in 1996 under Chancellor John T. Montford. During his 47 years of service he worked with four TTU System chancellors, nine presidents of TTU, and eight presidents at TTUHSC. He also received the Will Rogers Award from the TTU Student Government Association in recognition of his efforts to include students’ interests in his decision making.

Mike passed his love of the outdoors on to his boys who cherished every moment with him chasing trout, quail, forced marches, attending ballgames, playing golf, and sitting in his beloved Frio and Brazos Rivers with a cold adult beverage. He loved his friends like brothers and sisters.

He is survived by his wife Carol of Austin; sisters Sally Cowan and husband Robert of Llano; Susan Vrana and husband Dennis of Dallas; children Andrew Sanders and wife Angela of Dallas; Gregory Sanders of Ft. Worth; grandson Samuel Sanders of Ft. Worth; Nephew and Nieces, and their dog Lola and cat Buddy.

The memorial service will be held graveside at Gooch Cemetery in Mason, TX. at 2:00 p.m. September 17, 2020. The family encourages those attending to practice social distancing and wear masks to protect those vulnerable to Covid-19.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Texas Tech University System Foundation for either the Texas Tech University Scholarship Fund or Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Scholarship Fund. Donations can be sent to the TTUS Foundation PO Box 45025, Lubbock TX, 79409.


  • Graveside Service

    Thursday, September 17, 2020


John Michael Sanders

have a memory or condolence to add?

Fellow Subbers ( Bill, Keith, Mick )

September 14, 2020

Mike was a member of our group of "ACC Guys" that got together every summer for the past 50 years. We'd play golf, cards, go the horse races and cook our own meals. "Hoot"... as he was affectionately known by this group of "Subbers"... was always in charge of breakfast...and he controlled it like he did the Legislature in Austin.
We all stayed out of the way and let him prepare the daily "feast."
It was something to behold!!
His intelligence, like that of an owl, was the premise of the "Hoot" nickname. Plus...he was a genuine "Hoot" in every other aspect.
We've lost a true friend and comrade, but, we will continue to set his place at the table and raise a glass to salute him.
He touched us all...and...we're better for having known him.

John Huffaker

September 14, 2020

While working for an institution, the Texas Tech University System, I had the pleasure of working with "an institution," Mike Sanders. Matter of fact, straight to the point, that was Mike. Mike knew "how the world works." And, I would guess that there are a few past members of the Texas Legislature that also received a little education in "how the world works" from Mike. He gave exemplary service to our universities and our students. Thanks, Mike.

Brent Mears

September 13, 2020

My condolences to the Sanders Family. I am very sorry to hear about Mike’s passing. God Bless.

Steve Collins

September 13, 2020

Gruff, direct, honest, amusing (or hilarious) assessments of people, politics, and circumstances. Rarely wasted a word or a facial expression. No one else was quite like Mike. Not just Texas Tech, not just higher ed, but the State of Texas suffers the loss of Mike.

Charlotte Sullivan

September 13, 2020

Mike taught so many of us about higher education and Texas politics. I enjoyed visiting with him during the many hours we all spent at the Capitol. He always had an interesting insight into what was going on.

Laura Pickett Calfee

September 13, 2020

Mike taught me so much about higher education and I am externally grateful. But more than that, he made me laugh, especially in the face of danger. We fought many battles but he always managed to put them in perspective. He is missed.


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