DeLoss Dodds

Bill Little, special assistant to the head football coach for communication, will retire Sunday after 46 years with the Texas athletics department. The football and baseball press boxes will be named the Bill Little Media Center in his honor. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

Seven years ago, Bill Little, special assistant to the head football coach for communication, made a promise to then-athletic director DeLoss Dodds and head football coach Mack Brown.

The longtime sports information director committed to stay at Texas for as long as Dodds and Brown did.

But, last January, just a few months away from turning 72, Little and his wife, Kim, realized that promise had been fulfilled.

“In January, I looked up, and both DeLoss and Mack were gone,” Little said. “A new group of people were coming in, and they needed their own people to do their own thing. So [Kim and I] said, in the words of Coach Royal, ‘Let’s just set our bucket down.’ And that’s what we decided to do.”

On Aug. 31, Little will retire, and, for the first time since 1968, he will no longer be an employee of Texas athletics.

The legendary wordsmith, who worked as a commentary writer and special assistant to Brown for the past seven years, saw the reigns of five football coaches, five basketball coaches and four athletic directors during his time in Austin. He attended 36 bowl games with the Longhorns and broadcasted more than 1,700 baseball games. Even Little’s honeymoon consisted of accompanying the Longhorns’ basketball team to New York during their NIT trip in 1978. But, after seeing six decades come and go at Texas, Little thought it was the perfect time to leave.

“It’s always hard to step away,” Little said. “But the timing was just perfect. I always said I never wanted to leave anywhere bitter, and that has always been important to me. The opportunity seemed right for the new administration — for Coach Strong and for everyone. It was a hard decision, but it was also an easy decision.”

Little grew up in Winters, a small town south of Abilene that encompasses under three square miles and has a population of just more than 2,500. After growing up a Longhorn fan, he followed in the footsteps of both his parents and began his college career at Texas in 1960.

As a student, he majored in journalism and worked in the sports information director’s office, creating a close friendship with football coach Darrell K Royal that would span until his death in 2012. In addition, he served as the sports editor of The Daily Texan for two years, witnessing Royal’s first national championship in 1963.

In 1968, at 26, Little started his full-time career at Texas as an assistant sports information director after a job interview that lasted just two sentences.

“I saw there was this really good job in public relations at the University of Texas,” Little said. “I called Coach Royal, and I said, ‘Coach, I want to come back.’ And he said, ‘I’d like to have you back.’ And that was the extent of it. I started that spring.”

Unknowingly, Little would spend the next 46 years involved in Texas sports. Ironically, though, sports weren’t Little’s passion. His passion stretched through sports to the stories that could be told and the people who were discovered through the game.

“I knew I loved journalism, and I knew I loved to tell the story,” Little said. “What I found in sports was the human element. It’s the conquest of the human spirit. It makes you love the game — whatever it is — and you cry with it, whether you win or lose.”

Little wanted to make a difference through his work and through his words.

“I always found that, if you can write something that can make a difference to somebody, it can change a life,” Little said. “I was a bad golfer and a worse tennis player. And I wasn’t big enough to play football, and I was too short to play basketball, so my only gifts were to write and talk. And, if I was going to do what God put me on this planet to do, then I needed to do those things.”

Little made that difference he was seeking and influenced so many around him that the football and baseball press boxes will now be named the Bill Little Media Center. A significant gift from longtime athletics supporter Marian Dozier created the funds to honor Little.

“It means so much to be able to honor my great friend Bill in this way,” Dozier said. “This naming will help honor his immense life work, the legacy he has left nationally on sports media and hopefully motivate young people to follow their passions in work and life.”

With his retirement approaching, Little — who has three children and ten grandchildren, all of whom are Texas fans — is ready to step away. He still hopes to stay involved with Texas athletics, though, by announcing home baseball games and doing radio work. He’s also written seven books on the Longhorns and hopes to finish a few more during his new free time. 

“Texas athletics has pretty much been my life for close to 60 years,” Little said. “This fall will mark the first time since 1957 I haven’t covered football for somebody. But now, I think I’ve earned the chance to set my bucket down.”

Texas head coach Rick Barnes has made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances in 15 seasons at Texas, missing only the 2013 tournament. His Longhorns are 16-4 and ranked no.25 this season and seem likely to return to the "Big Dance."

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

Texas Athletics is entering a new era. Last fall, the University replaced longtime athletic director DeLoss Dodds with Steve Patterson. Patterson’s hiring raised the already high expectations for the Longhorns athletics program. Since his introduction, Patterson made waves with the hiring of head football coach Charlie Strong.

Now that football season is over, many fans are turning their focus to the University’s other big breadwinner: men’s basketball. Rick Barnes is in his 16th season of coaching the men’s team, and after last year’s dismal 16-18 record, the floodgates of speculation have opened with many thinking that this might be Barnes’ final season guiding the Longhorns.

Changes at the head coaching position in NCAA Division I basketball have become extremely common. Over the last three years, 152 head coaching positions have changed hands. Barnes is well aware of the evolving culture of programs cycling through head coaches as soon as they step foot on their campuses.

“There’s no question that society today is, ‘What have you done lately?’” Barnes said. “But the fact is that you don’t worry about those things. You just do your job, and that’s what we’ll do here.”

Patterson is in the difficult position of having to choose between continuing to pay Barnes like a top-10 coach — Barnes is owed $2.4 million this year, and his contract runs through 2017 — or firing a man who has won 70.2 percent of his games at Texas. Because of this conundrum, Barnes’ performance this season will likely be under a microscope.

But there’s reason to believe that Patterson will not be as hasty to replace Barnes as he was with Brown. The crux of the argument lies in the team’s recent surge and two common misunderstandings fans have about NCAA basketball.

The basketball team has just knocked off three ranked teams in a row — No. 8 Iowa State, No. 22 Kansas State and No. 24 Baylor — for the first time in the program’s history. The Longhorns’ record sits at 16-4, and they are in an excellent position to make the NCAA tournament. This is a pretty big accomplishment for a team that was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll. 

Despite lacking major NBA talent along the lines of a Kevin Durant or LaMarcus Aldridge, the Longhorns have shown resiliency in the clutch, as evidenced by Jonathan Holmes’ recent game-winning jumper against the Wildcats. Certainly, there will be variance in these types of close-game scenarios — the team has won seven games by three points or fewer — but the ability to pull out these nail-biters could suggest that Barnes’ program has turned a corner.

For many years, Texas has been snake-bitten in the NCAA tournament. Fans don’t need to be reminded of the epic 2011 loss against Arizona. Much of the blame for Texas’ poor season finishes has been rightly placed on Barnes’ shoulders. 

But there are two assumptions that have incorrectly added to Barnes’ image as a late-game blunder manager. Firstly, the NCAA tournament is a series of one-game scenarios. Anything can happen under these circumstances, and year after year we see this come to fruition with a variety of comeback stories: underdog teams that make deep runs in the tournament. Over time, it becomes more and more likely that this variance will flatten out and Texas will make another deep run.

Secondly, there tends to be an assumption among fans that coaches can either be characterized as good or bad. This is faulty logic. Coaches have the ability both to make and learn from mistakes. Just like their athletes, coaches can take time to develop parts of their game. It could be that Barnes has learned from his past late-game gaffes.

Barnes said he hasn’t had a chance to spend a lot of time with Patterson, but based on his conversations with former head coach Mack Brown, he can trust Patterson to be forthcoming.

“Mack Brown told me through his conversations with [Patterson] that you can trust him,” Barnes said. “That he’s a man of his word.”

Barnes will have the opportunity to earn Patterson’s trust with a strong 2014 campaign. If the team can continue its winning ways, the narrative focus will shift to whether Barnes has put the past behind him and prepared his team for an NCAA tournament run. 

Bev Kearney, former women’s track and field head coach, filed a lawsuit against the University alleging discrimination based on her race and her gender Thursday, according to her attorney, Derek Howard.

Kearney resigned in January after being told the University was prepared to fire her for a having a consensual relationship in 2002 with Raasin McIntosh, who was a student-athlete on Kearney’s team.

In her lawsuit — which seeks more than $1 million — Kearney said Bubba Thornton, former men’s track and field head coach, consistently demeaned her in front of others and falsely accused her of committing NCAA infractions.

The lawsuit points fingers at a wide range of University officials who Kearney claims she reported the harassment incidents to and chose to do nothing about it. The list includes men’s and women’s head athletic directors DeLoss Dodds and Chris Plonsky, Jody Conradt, former women’s head athletic director, Patricia Ohlendorf, vice president for legal affairs, Gregory Vincent, vice president of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and individuals in the human resources department.

"The University of Texas will thoroughly review the unfounded allegations of Ms. Kearney's lawsuit and respond through proper legal channels," Ohlendorf said in a statement.

The lawsuit also alleges that other University employees — predominately white males — have been involved in relationships with students or direct subordinates and have not received any disciplinary action. It cites the University’s handling of an incident with football co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite as an example. Applewhite engaged in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” in 2009, according to a letter from Dodds obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act in February of this year. Applewhite’s salary was suspended for a year following the incident, but he has since received promotions and raises.

"When the university reviews inappropriate behavior by its employees, each case is evaluated on its individual facts," Ohlendorf said in a statement. "In this case, it was evident that Ms. Kearney displayed a serious lack of judgment by having an inappropriate, intimate, long-term relationship with a member of her team. The team member later reported it to university officials who pursued all appropriate action."

Kearney took the helm of the women’s track and field program in 1992, and her teams have won six NCAA championships.

Kearney was placed on administrative leave by the University almost exactly one year ago after McIntosh revealed her past relationship with her coach to officials in UT athletics. Since then, much has changed in the department. Thornton announced his retirement in June and Dodds plans to step down in August. The UT System Board of Regents voted to approve Steve Patterson, the newly hired men's head athletic director, Monday.

After weeks of speculation on who would replace longtime athletic director DeLoss Dodds, the school has announced that current Arizona State University athletic director Steve Patterson will take the position at Texas.

Here are five things you need to know about the Longhorns’ newest athletic executive.

Connection to Texas                                  

While Patterson, 55, was born and raised in Wisconsin, the athletic director attended UT as an undergraduate student between 1976-1980. In addition, he graduated from UT’s law school in 1984. Patterson’s son, Austin, is also a student at Texas.

Patterson has lived in the Lone Star State on numerous occasions during stints with multiple Houston professional sports teams.

Resume at Arizona State

Patterson is coming to Texas after numerous years with the Sun Devils. He was the chief operating officer for the Sun Devil Athletics and managing director of Sun Devil Sports Group before becoming athletic director. In that position, Patterson was responsible for Arizona State’s athletic business operations, development and stadium operations.

In March 2012 he took the role of vice president of University Athletics and athletic director. There he controlled many major ASU developments. Along with leading a $300 million renovation of the Sun Devil football stadium, Patterson also developed the new site for a baseball stadium and the creation of a 425-acre sports facilities district near the university.

Experience past ASU

While Texas’ new AD has had only limited time at collegiate level athletics, he has worked with four different professional sports teams since 1989. In that year, Patterson became the general manager for the Houston Rockets, where he stayed until 1993. With the Rockets, Patterson was responsible for gathering the franchise’s first NBA Championship team along with hosting the 1989 NBA All-Star game.

After his stint with the Rockets, Patterson became the general manager and chief operating officer of the Houston Aeros hockey team, before joining the Houston Texans in 1997. With the Texans, he helped lead the effort to become an NFL franchise and build Reliant Stadium while also negotiating for Houston to be the home of Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004.

Patterson’s final professional experience before his time in Arizona was as president of the Portland Trail Blazers. While he led only mediocre teams in Oregon, he drafted and started the NBA career of All-Star and former Longhorn LaMarcus Aldridge.

Late addition to the AD race

Last week, Patterson reportedly denied all rumors that he was interested in the role while Texas officials stated they had yet to even interview him or offer him the job. However, after interviewing for the position this past weekend, Patterson emerged as the new frontrunner.

The frontrunner to take over for Dodds, who announced in October that he would retire after 32 years at Texas, was originally current West Virginia AD Oliver Luck. Many expected Luck to be offered the job after interviewing with Texas officials, but Tuesday afternoon he was told that Patterson would be given the offer instead.

Texas responsibilities

Patterson comes to the 40 acres at the same time Texas athletics has taken a plunge from its tall expectations. One of his biggest decisions will be the fate of head football coach Mack Brown and basketball coach Rick Barnes, who have both had diminishing seasons in the past few years.

Meanwhile, Patterson will be a vital part of the decision to build a new basketball arena if the Frank Erwin Center gets torn down as a part of the plans for the new Dell Medical School. In addition, Patterson will be responsible for the largest athletics budget in the nation at more than $160 million.

UT’s search for a new athletic director will be facilitated by a seven-member advisory committee appointed by President William Powers Jr. Former athletic director DeLoss Dodds announced his retirement Oct. 1. The committee members listed below will work with the search firm Korn/Ferry International, which was hired by UT earlier this month.

Steve Hicks serves on the University of Texas System Board of Regents and is currently serving his second term as vice chairman of the board. Hicks serves as an athletics liaison in addition to serving on multiple committees.

Robert Stillwell also serves on the Board of Regents and as a liaison for athletics. He obtained his undergraduate degree from UT and later returned to obtain his law degree from the UT School of Law.

Michael Clement is the KPMG faculty fellow in accounting education and professor of accounting within the McCombs School of Business. He currently serves as the faculty representative for UT’s men’s and women’s athletic councils and worked as the vice president of global investment research for Goldman Sachs Group Inc. from 2002-2004.

Charles Matthews is the current president of the Texas Exes Board of Directors. Matthews was formerly vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil Corp.

Robert Rowling is a former UT regent and UT alumnus. Rowling’s family donated $25 million to construct a graduate school building for the McCombs School of Business in March of this year. The building, located at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Guadalupe Street, is set to be named Rowling Hall.

Charles Tate was a member of the Commission of 125, a 75 member committee which issued recommendations in 2004 for UT’s next 25 years. Tate received his Bachelor of Business Administration from UT. He is also a member of the McCombs School of Business Hall of Fame.

Pamela Willeford was formerly the chair of the Texas Higher Education Board and a UT graduate. She also served as a U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein from October of 2003 and May of 2006.

With men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds announcing his retirement on Tuesday, the University will begin the search for new athletic director in the coming weeks.

UT spokesman Gary Susswein said the office of President William Powers Jr. will conduct a national search for the new athletic director. The University has not contacted or identified a shortlist of candidates, but will consider applicants’ experience in college athletics.

At a press conference, Powers said the hiring process will be competitive.

“With the assistance of Dodds, we will begin the search for a successor today,” Powers said. “People around the country have enormous respect for UT and its athletic department. I have no doubt this will be a highly sought-after job.”

Although there is no strict timeline for hiring Dodds’ successor, the University plans on having a transition period for the new athletic director from the time the position is filled until Dodds steps down on Aug. 31, 2014. Dodds said he announced his retirement in advance to allow for such a transition.

Susswein said Powers would consult with the
athletic liaisons on the UT System Board of Regents. Regents Steve Hicks and Robert Stillwell currently serve in the roles. According to system spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, the regents will have to approve the new athletic director’s contract if it is over $250,000. 

Powers said he does not
expect any issues with
the board.

“The Board of Regents, [as with] any appointment at this level, will have to approve it,” Powers said. “That will be a smooth enterprise.”

Last month, the Associated Press reported Regent Wallace Hall and Tom Hicks, a former UT regent and brother to Steve Hicks, looked into replacing Texas football head coach Mack Brown. According to the AP, Hicks and Hall called Jimmy Sexton, agent to Alabama head coach Nick Saban, to gauge whether his client would be interested in replacing Brown at UT. The inquiry was dropped when Brown informed Hicks he was not ready to retire. According to the AP, Powers was not notified about the call.

According to both NCAA rules and the Board of Regents’ rules, the institution president has the authority to appoint a new athletic director or head coach. 

Dodds will remain at the University as a consultant. According to his contract, he will earn a salary of $100,000 in his new role. Dodds currently has a base salary of $550,000. As part of his contract, Dodds will also receive a $1 million annuity payment next year. Susswein said the next athletic director will be paid at market value. Last year, Texas A&M University hired Eric Hyman as its athletic director with a base salary of $800,000.

President William Powers Jr.  and the UT System Board of Regents are set to begin the search for a replacement for retiring Texas men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds. While Dodds’ advance warning gives the Longhorn brass plenty of time to find a successor, Powers reportedly wants to make a hire by Dec. 1, so expect the search to start immediately.

Here are a few potential candidates for the job:

 

Oliver Luck

Believed by many to be the favorite, Oliver Luck is a Texas law graduate and the current athletic director at West Virginia.

Luck’s tenure in Morgantown has been impressive, with his most notable accomplishment for the Mountaineers being a successful transition from the Big East to the Big 12. Luck also hired former Oklahoma State coach Dana Holgorsen to replace Bill Stewart at West Virginia in 2011.

 

Bob Bowlsby

The current Big 12 commissioner, Bob Bowlsby has been linked to the Texas athletic director job on several occasions.

Bowlsby has plenty of administrative experience, including stints as athletic director at Stanford, Iowa and Northern Iowa. He was also on the U.S. Olympic Committee for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

While Bowlsby has previously denied interest in the Texas position, his name is reportedly high on Powers’ list.

 

Tom Jurich

Tom Jurich, the director of athletics at Louisville, is another name that continues to make its rounds on the rumor mill. Jurich was hired by Louisville in 1997, after serving in the same role at Colorado State and Northern Arizona. 

A few notable accomplishments at Louisville include engineering the program’s move to the Big East, hiring Rick Pitino to lead the men’s basketball program, overseeing the completion and renovation of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and, most recently, hiring Charlie Strong to re-establish the Louisville football program as a Big East powerhouse.

 

Jack Swarbrick

Perhaps the most high-profile candidate, Jack Swarbrick currently serves as Notre Dame’s athletic director.

The Notre Dame gig is Swarbrick’s only experience as an athletic director, but it should be more than enough. Notre Dame is one of the few schools which attracts attention similar to that of Texas, though, he claims he is not interested in coming to Austin. When asked about possibly replacing Dodds last week, Swarbrick said, “I feel like I have the best job in college athletics.”

 

Chris Plonsky

A long shot, sure, but Texas would be foolish not to consider current Longhorn women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky as a possible replacement for Dodds.

Plonsky has been an athletic director at Texas since 2001, and has seen her programs win a combined 40 Big 12 championships and three national championships in that time. She also played a major role in bringing the Longhorn Network to the 40 Acres.

While some might question her ability to handle the men’s side of the operation, Plonsky’s experience and success as a Longhorn administrator makes her as good a candidate as any.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

As is the case with Mack Brown and Rick Barnes, the fact that certain standards have not been met recently should not overshadow the fact that athletic director DeLoss Dodds was responsible for those standards in the first place. 

Dodds made official Tuesday afternoon what was rumored to happen soon, something he has been unwilling to tell Brown or Barnes to do — he stepped down. 

“There are a lot of qualified men and women who can do this job and give a different set of eyes,” Dodds said. “The time has come for me to step down and the time has come for the University to have someone else in there. [UT] president [Bill] Powers will find the right person. I’ll be on that person’s team.”

Fiercely loyal to the football and basketball coaches he hired when his hair hadn’t yet grayed, Dodds likely understands changes need to be made. But he has long held that he will not be the one to make those changes. 

“When we hired Coach Brown, he was head and shoulders above everybody in the marketplace,” Dodds said. “This is a hard job and he was so ready to do it.”

So, instead of continuing to hold his position as the University of Texas men’s athletics director — one he’s held for 32 years — Dodds will resign from his post next August. Unwilling to show Brown or Barnes the door, he chose to walk out of it himself.

We don’t know who the Longhorns’ next athletic director will be, but we know whoever it is, they will shake things up. Whether it is Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck or another less obvious candidate, they will almost certainly — and should — hire new head football and men’s basketball coaches. 

Unless Brown’s Longhorns somehow win the Big 12, as he insists they’re capable of doing, his 16th year as the Texas head football coach should be his last. Barnes has found a way to field a team worse than the one that turned in its first losing season during his 14-year tenure. It’s his time to go, too. 

Dodds had to go through the Fred Akers, Tom Penders and John Mackovics of the world before hitting home runs with Brown and Barnes, who took the hoops program to unprecedented heights but is poised for another losing season.

Dodds has turned the Texas athletic department into a well-oiled, money-printing machine. If it was his fault the Longhorns weren’t winning as often toward the end of his 36-year tenure, Dodds should at least be credited for keeping his athletics program the most profitable in the country despite the dip in on-field performance.

“He did much of what Mack did as a football coach,” former women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt said. “He brought all these factions that had gone in various directions together. We became a team and that team had, as its number one goal, to be good for the University of Texas.”

With that goal in mind, Dodds picked the perfect time to step down.

Men’s head athletic director DeLoss Dodds plans to announce his decision to step down next August on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Dodds, 76, took over as athletic director at the University in 1981. Earlier this month, he denied reports that he planned to step down before the end of the year.

According to the report by the AP, Dodds plans to remain athletic director until Aug. 31, 2014, when he will move into a consultant’s role.

Dodds played an instrumental role in turning around the Longhorns’ football program by hiring Mack Brown as head coach in 1998. Under Brown, the Longhorns won a national championship in 2005 and made another trip to the BCS title game in 2009.

The success of the football team has slipped over the past four seasons, and the Longhorns possess just a 24-18 record since the start of 2010. 

Dodds told The Dallas Morning News two weeks ago that he hoped to lead the football program back to prominence before retiring.

“My goal would be to leave things in good shape,” Dodds said. “We need to win some football games. I’m responsible for that.”

In addition to football, Dodds revitalized the Texas baseball program by hiring head coach Augie Garrido in 1997. Garrido has posted a 720-347-2 record with the Longhorns and led them to a pair of national championships.

In the 2011-12 fiscal year, the Longhorns athletic department earned $163.3 million in revenue under Dodds, most among all university athletic departments in the country. The football team alone earned $103.8 million, marking the first time a single sport in the NCAA generated over $100 million in a season.

Dodds remains under contract through 2015, and he earns $700,000 each year, according to the AP. The Austin American-Statesman first broke the story.

After five days of turmoil and lingering questions, Texas men’s athletic director DeLoss Dodds gave head coach Mack Brown his full backing.

Dodds spoke to the Austin American-Statesman on Wednesday morning and once again backed Brown.

"Mack's fine," Dodds told the Statesman. "I know we didn't play well Saturday. Mack will know if he should be coaching or shouldn't be. I know this is my responsibility, and I'm not shying away from it. The bottom line is I'm for the kids and the coaches."

Dodds' support comes after an embarrassing 40-21 loss to Brigham Young University last Saturday. After the loss, in which the defense gave up 550 yards rushing, Mack Brown demoted Manny Diaz from defensive coordinator and made Greg Robinson the new play-caller.

Mack Brown recently said he plans to stay at Texas until the end of his contract, which ends in 2020.

"Mack loves the game,” Dodds said. “He's good for Texas. He's going to be a part of what his future is.”

The athletic director also added that he has no plans himself to step down from his position anytime soon. He stated he will receive the $1 million annuity guaranteed to him next August, whether he is the athletic director or not, but he has had no thoughts of leaving his post.