New interim athletic director Mike Perrin remembers the very reason he came to Texas in the first place.
In 1964, Perrin attended a football practice. The electricity of the team, then led by legendary head coach Darrell K Royal, was all he needed to convince him to come to Austin.
“It’s a feeling I’ve never forgotten,” Perrin said. “I hope I never do.”
Now, 51 years later, Perrin is returning to the 40 Acres – but in a much different capacity this time around.
Perrin was introduced as interim athletic director at a press conference Wednesday. Perrin said UT President Gregory Fenves first approached him about the position on Labor Day, more than a week before Steve Patterson announced his resignation.
“It is a thrill to be back in a different role,” Perrin said.
Perrin, who played linebacker for Texas in the late 1960s and graduated from the UT law school in 1971, has spent the last two years as a trial attorney in Houston, but he’s remained connected with the University. He said he attended Saturday’s game against Rice and was concerned about the nearly 15,000 empty seats.
“It concerns me that fans voted with their feet,” Perrin said.
Those empty seats are just part of the reason Perrin is in his position. Growing angst among fans about Patterson’s changes — primarily the increases in football and basketball season ticket prices — as well as a disconnect between Patterson and Fenves led to Patterson’s resignation.
Fenves declined to specify what led to Patterson’s resignation, but Fenves said relationships with fans and alumni were important to him.
“I felt there were certain things that I’d like to see, and so we recognized that we weren’t always seeing eye-to-eye,” Fenves said.
Perrin said repairing those broken relationships with boosters and alumni is one of his primary focuses as he gets used to the interim position; however, Perrin added that he didn’t anticipate making any immediate changes to UT athletics.
“We’ve got a season under way and we’ve got a school year under way and we’ve got things in place,” Perrin said. “I do think that some of the people that have spoken to me have expressed a desire to revisit some of those issues.”
Perrin also expressed firm support for football head coach Charlie Strong and men’s basketball head coach Shaka Smart, both of whom were hired by Patterson.
“Charlie Strong is very hardworking, and I consider him a personal friend,”
Perrin said. “[Smart] is something special, and I wanted to reach out to him that I’m behind him 100 percent.”
Perrin said he would stay on as the interim athletic director as long as Fenves wants. Fenves said there’s no timeline for setting up a search committee to find a long-term athletic director.
“My focus is a smooth and quick transition with Mike,” Fenves said.