While board takes no action on President Powers, Chancellor Cigarroa issues strong warning


Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Update at 4:50 p.m.: The UT System Board of Regents opted to take no action regarding President William Powers Jr.'s employment situation Thursday afternoon, though UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa issued a strong warning to Powers to "improve relationships" with the UT System and the board.

After being in executive session for nearly four-and-a-half hours, Cigarroa made a lengthy statement to the board in which he alternated between criticizing and praising Powers. Cigarroa said Powers had made public statements that showed misalignment between UT and the System despite being in agreement, and that Powers had been at times difficult to work with. Cigarroa also acknowledged Powers' broad support among faculty, students and alumni, and that a change in leadership would make it difficult for recruitment. He said the relationship between himself and Powers has also improved recently.

Cigarroa then recommended keeping Powers as the president of UT, and board Chairman Paul Foster adjourned the meeting.

"I'm optimistic about the future of UT-Austin, and I'm confident all this controversy will soon be a distant memory," Foster said.

After the decision, Powers said he is thankful for the chancellor's support.

Update at 4:35 p.m.: UT System Board of Regents take no action regarding Powers.

Update at 4:31 p.m.: UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa: "I am hopeful that the strained relationship [between Powers and the UT System] can be improved... it is my recommendation that Bill Powers remains president of the University of Texas at Austin."

Update at 4:15 p.m.: The UT System Board of Regents have just ended executive session are allowing media and outside personnel to convene in the conference room.

Update at 11:15 a.m.: Brown said he would not speak on his employment situation during the press conference, saying he needed to speak with President William Powers Jr. and new men's head athletic director Steve Patterson before doing so. Brown also apologized to Valero Alamo Bowl officials for his job status serving as a "distraction."

Brown avoided questions about his future during the press conference, making a brief statement and then asking the media to refrain from asking questions unless they were about the Alamo Bowl.

Afterwards, university benafactor Red McCombs spoke to the media and had this to say about Brown's situation.

"I think that Mack has earned the right to choose whatever he wants to do, whether he wants to stay or he wants to go," McCombs said.... "If you can find a reason to get rid of a guy like that, you’d really have to reach."

He also had the quote of the day when he spoke about Texas' potential interest in Alabama head coach Nick Saban and if Texas had enough money to sway him to Austin.

"I don't think there's any question," McCombs said. "All the money that's not in the Vatican is up at UT."

Original: On the second day of final exams, two of the University’s most prominent faces will be sizing up to tests of their own.

The UT System Board of Regents plans to hold a discussion “concerning [the] employment” of President William Powers Jr. at its meeting today, according to the board’s agenda.

Meanwhile, about 80 miles south in San Antonio, football head coach Mack Brown faces questions from reporters about his job situation for the first time since reports of him stepping down emerged earlier this week. The University strongly denied those reports. Brown is in San Antonio for a coaches availability for the Valero Alamo Bowl, in which the Longhorns will face of with the Oregon Ducks on Dec. 30.

The tenuous employment situations of the pair of friends and hexagenarians have been ongoing since 2010.

Powers and a handful of the regents have disagreed over a range of topics including the purpose of higher education, tuition increases and fundraising. Currently, the Texas Legislature is holding impeachment hearings on whether Regent Wallace Hall overstepped his duties as a regent, with allegations that he was leading a “witch hunt” to oust Powers.

And Brown, after leading the Longhorns to nine straight seasons of 10 wins or more and a national championship, has struggled to get Texas back on track after a disastrous 5-7 season in 2010.

Powers and Brown are also being evaluated by a different pair of eyes than they had in the past. Gov. Rick Perry appointed two new regents — Jeffrey Hildebrand and Ernest Aliseda — to the board in February, while the University hired Steve Patterson last month to replace long-time men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds, who will be retiring in August.

Check in with The Daily Texan for updates on Brown and Powers through the day.