athletic director

Texas Men’s Athletic Director Steve Patterson sat down with Texas Monthly to discuss Texas' future.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

In the latest edition of the Texas Monthly Talks interview series, Texas Men’s Athletic Director Steve Patterson sat down with Texas Monthly Editor-in-Chief Brian Sweany at the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center on Monday evening to discuss his vision for Longhorn athletics and his role as athletic director. 

Patterson, who was featured alongside football head coach Charlie Strong on the cover of Texas Monthly’s September edition, shed light on topics ranging from Strong’s now-famous five core values to his plans for expanding the Longhorns’ global brand. 

Throughout the interview, Patterson drew upon his experience in both professional sports and as the athletic director at Arizona State University to answer questions. 

Arguably his most important decision in his first months as athletic director was hiring Strong. Patterson said, while the success of the football team is critical to the athletic department, he was not overwhelmed by fear of failure in making the decision.

“I’m not unmindful of the fact that, if the football team doesn’t play well, at or above expectations, you’re not going to be able to successfully drive the business, and I think everybody understands that,” Patterson said. “But I don’t go into the day being afraid that, ‘Oh God, this is gonna blow up and this is gonna be the end of the world.’ I go in trying to gather as much information as I possibly can, look at the criteria, see who fits that criteria for a particular position.” 

Patterson also outlined his plan for creating endowments for all UT sports, which would entail raising money for individual sports to make them self-sustaining. He said he hopes to build the global brand of the Longhorns by playing international games, such as the mens’ basketball game scheduled for China in 2015. 

“The University athletic teams really are the front porch of the University; it’s the way we tell our stories to the world,” Patterson said. “There are four, five, six potential international brands in college athletics. We’re one of them. If we don’t leverage it, we haven’t done our job.”

Men's athletic director Steve Patterson discusses issues facing the athletics department at a Student Government meeting Tuesday evening. 

Photo Credit: Graeme Hamilton | Daily Texan Staff

Tuesday, at the first Student Government meeting of the school year,  the SG assembly confirmed internal and external positions and men’s athletic director Steve Patterson discussed issues facing the athletics department.

After the floor was opened for questions, SG assembly members asked Patterson about the Frank Erwin Center’s future and the compensation of college athletes.

While no exact demolition date is set for the Erwin Center, Patterson said when the time comes for the center to close to make way for the future Dell Medical School expansion, he would like to see an arena close to campus available to use.

“I think that there are a lot of parties that need to be in conversations that come to the table to address financing issues, location issues, design issues, parking and transportation issues and different conditions with users,” Patterson said.

Patterson also said he is against the compensation of University athletes outside their student benefits.

“If you take the benefits that student athletes get — room and board, tuition, mentoring, tutoring, the basic student benefits — then the value of a student athlete, a football player for instance, is about $69,000 a year … which would put you in the top third of household incomes in the United States,” Patterson said. 

Later in the meeting, the executive board appointed students to internal and external positions. The nominations were voided in May after the SG court requested interview notes from the position interview process. SG assembly speaker Braydon Jones said the nominees made last spring were included on the agenda and were appointed during the meeting.

Jones said he gave assembly members three-and-a-half weeks to voice any concerns about the previous appointments.

“I personally did not receive any concerns regarding the appointments,” Jones said. “The assembly board and I met earlier this afternoon and decided we would move forward with the applications and the appointments of the previously nominated names.”

During the meeting, SG President Kori Rady said Safe Ride — his initiative to provide safe and free transportation to students from downtown after going out on the weekends — will start Thursday.

“It’s something we have been working on for a long time and something that our University lacks,” Rady said.

Rady also said the UT Android app contract is complete and awaiting signatures from the student developers before its release.

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. 

In this podcast, Bobby Blanchard, Christine Ayala and Jordan Rudner discuss the most recent regent controversies. They also talk about the new athletic director and Rudner's story on the underreporting of sexual assault. Listen to the podcast below:

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

With Mack Brown on the hot seat at Texas, talk of potential replacements is constantly swirling around the 40 Acres. Of course, the most desirable candidate would be Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has won back-to-back national titles.

While plucking Saban from Tuscaloosa may seem virtually impossible, a new report from the Associated Press suggests it may not be so far-fetched.

Through an open records request, the AP obtained an email that detailed a call between Saban’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, and UT Regent Wallace Hall and former Regent Tom Hicks. According to the email, Sexton stated that Texas is the only school that his client would leave Alabama for.

Sexton went on to say that Saban is under “special pressure” at the helm of the Crimson Tide as a result of the incredible success he has had in Tuscaloosa.

 

Arkansas AD gets raise

He may not have gotten the job in Austin, but Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long has parlayed the interest from Texas into a raise from his current employer.

Long has agreed to a new contract with the Razorbacks that will increase his annual salary to $1.1 million by next summer. The contract also includes a $100,000 bonus and raises his buyout to $1.3 million through June 30, 2015.

Long, who was recently named the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee, was considered one of the finalists for the Texas men’s athletic director position, prior to Steve Patterson being selected on Tuesday.

 

UNC quarterback out for rest of season

North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner had surgery Wednesday to repair a detached labrum and fracture in his non-throwing shoulder, and will be out for the rest of the season as a result.

Renner, a fifth-year senior, injured his shoulder on a scramble in the second half of last week’s game against NC State. With no eligibility left after this season, the injury means the end of his collegiate career.

The Virginia native has been the Tar Heels starter for each of the past three years, putting together one of the most impressive careers in the school’s history. Renner’s 64 career touchdown passes are the second-most in program history while he sits third in school history in passing yards, completions and attempts.

 

Cal running back injured in locker-room brawl

Cal running back Fabiano Hale was taken to hospital after a locker room altercation with a teammate last week, according to University of California police.

University police officials said the walk-on was injured in a “one-on-one” fight with another player at the team’s facility. Police did not identify the other player involved in the altercation but do have a suspect.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Newly appointed men’s athletic director Steve Patterson said he looks forward to the opportunity to return to Texas, but does not plan on making any significant changes to the program. 

“I don’t see it as a situation where we need a dramatic turnaround,” Patterson said. “I don’t anticipate monstrous changes.”

At a press conference Tuesday, UT President William Powers Jr. officially welcomed and introduced Patterson and his family to the University. He said finding an individual who is a “great fit” for the University is paramount to the success of the athletic department. 

“Jim Collins famously said that the key to an organization’s success is getting the right people on the bus and get them in the right seat,” Powers said. “We had the right person on the bus with DeLoss Dodds, we have the right person on the bus with Chris Plonsky, and now we have the right person on the bus with Steve Patterson.”

Powers said Patterson’s interview process did not include conversations about any of the University’s current athletic programs.  

“We did not discuss plans or make plans for any existing programs in any specific sense,” Powers said.

Patterson said his departure from Arizona State University will come as a disappointment to some, as has received criticism from some ASU officials for leaving the program after a little over one year. 

Mark Killian, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, said he disapproved of the financial motivations he thought were behind Patterson’s decision.

“We’ve devolved in our society — that money speaks louder than words,” Killian said. “And that’s a damn shame.” 

Patterson said discussions between he and Powers were never centered around compensation.

Patterson, who has family and friends residing in Texas, did not deny his compensation at UT as being substantial. 

“My wife’s got family in Houston, my mother and my brother live here in Texas, [and] I have a lot of great friends and business associates here,” Patterson said. “I’m not going to deny that I’m well compensated. I’ve been well compensated as an executive for a lot of years. I could’ve stayed at ASU, but this is really a homecoming.”

Women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky said the department is very excited about Patterson’s move to Austin.

“This will be a strong transition,” Plonsky said. “You can see his passion for college athletics [and] he was somewhat taken with the thought that he was home. A guy who has had that much experience in the professional ranks, to still see the great stories that come out of dealing with the student athlete population and to be moved by that enough to stay in it and assume the role that he is at a great University — I think that speaks volumes about the man.” 

An athletic director aids a university in the management of business and athletic decisions within his or her department, be it men’s or women’s athletics. The athletic director oversees and utilizes the departments budget. The athletics department’s overall budget for 2013 is $161.9 million, according to a 2013 UT athletics report. The director also maintains the final word on the employment and contract termination of the University’s coaches. It is the responsibility of the director to lead the charge for new athletic facilities and stadiums, oversee renovations and negotiate properties.

Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson accepted the Texas athletic director job. 

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

After a month-long search, the University has hired Steve Patterson to replace DeLoss Dodds as the new men’s athletic director.

Patterson, who has been Arizona State University’s athletic director since March 2012, was selected by an eight-member advisory committee, which included former and current members of the UT System Board of Regents and President William Powers Jr.

Patterson and West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck were finalists for the position, but Patterson beat out Luck in the interview process conducted over the weekend, according to UT spokesman Gary Susswein. 

Under his new five-year contract at UT, Patterson will receive an annual salary of $1.4 million as well as performance bonuses of up to $200,000 per year. The performance bonuses are based upon whether the athletics department is financially solvent and whether it can avoid any NCAA violations, Susswein said. 

Dodds currently collects a full, annual salary of $1.1 million, including bonuses.

Mark Killian, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, said he was angry about Patterson’s decision and said he was completely unaware of Patterson’s acceptance of the athletic director position before the announcement Tuesday.  

“I think it’s just disgusting, but that’s the world of sports,” Killian said. “[Collegiate] institutions who have the money can afford to hire whoever they want, and I’m not critical of that,” Killian said. “But when someone makes a commitment, they should honor it. I was raised that your word is [your] bond.” 

Killian said he disapproved of the financial motivations he thought were behind Patterson’s decision.

“We’ve devolved in our society – that money speaks louder than words,” Killian said. “And that’s a damn shame.”

Patterson earned his undergraduate degree at the McCombs School of Business and graduated from the UT School of Law. Patterson’s son, Austin, is an advertising senior at UT.

Because Patterson’s salary as athletic director will exceed $250,000, the appointment is subject to approval by the Board of Regents. Regent Steven Hicks, who was on the search committee, said Patterson is the ideal candidate for the position. 

“Steve Patterson is the perfect candidate to build upon UT’s successes,” Hicks said. “His track record of achievements with finances, facilities, personnel and business operations in high achieving athletics programs makes him a perfect fit for UT, and I’m especially proud that he has UT and Texas roots.”

Dodds announced his impending retirement
in October.

Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson accepted the Texas athletic director job. 

Photo Credit: AP Exchange | Daily Texan Staff

Steve Patterson, the University’s new men’s athletic director, was hired for his commitment to success and impressive resume, according to UT President William Powers Jr. 

Patterson, who will replace current director DeLoss Dodds, was nominated by an eight-person committee that included Powers.

Powers said Patterson was the ideal contender in the selection process.  

“Steve Patterson emerged as the perfect candidate to build on Texas’ athletic success and DeLoss Dodds’ legacy,” Powers said. “Steve helped build an NBA championship team and brought the Super Bowl game to Houston. Far more important, he’s run a winning program at Arizona State that places students first and is committed to their lifelong success.”

Patterson, who started as athletic director for Arizona State in 2012, has a long history of involvement in professional sports. 

From 1989 to 1993, Patterson served as the general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, and oversaw recruitment of much of the 1993-1994 roster that won the franchise’s first NBA championship.

Patterson also helped establish the Houston Texans’ NFL franchise and served as the team’s senior vice president and chief development officer from 1997 to 2003. 

During his Texans tenure, Patterson assisted in planning the construction of Reliant Stadium, established the team’s business operations and brought Super Bowl XXXVIII to Houston. 

“He’s well equipped to handle the challenges at the University of Texas,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said. “He is extremely intelligent and poised and will be able to address and handle any challenges that may arise during his tenure. He’ll represent the University well.”

Mark Killian, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, was completely unaware of Patterson’s acceptance of the athletic director position before Tuesday. 

Killian said the great work Patterson had done in Arizona State’s athletic department made his decision to leave even more surprising to him and ASU officials.

“We had such high hopes for Mr. Patterson and what he could bring to the table,” Killian said. “Everyone was ranting and raving about the great job he was doing. I had not heard one complaint about him [during his tenure]. Most comments were that ASU was lucky to have him. That’s the main reason we’re all picking ourselves up off the floor.” 

ASU President Michael M. Crow said that during his time at Arizona State, Patterson put the university’s athletic department on sound financial footing and positioned the department to continue moving forward. 

“I well understand his desire to return to his home state and wish him well at the University of Texas,” Crow said. “We do not intend to slow our forward progress in the least.”

Killian said the board being unaware of Patterson’s procurement by UT is not standard procedure and said he feels Patterson’s decision to accept the UT position is a question of ethics.

“No one has ethics anymore — you sign a contract and it doesn’t mean anything,” Killian said. “I hope for the taxpayers’ sake that Mr. Patterson has some integrity. I wish him the best, but it’s really screwed up things here in Arizona.”