11 Takeaways From Meeting New Interim AD Mike Perrin


University of Texas president Greg Fenves addressed the media this morning, after men’s athletics director Steve Patterson resigned yesterday, and introduced new interim AD Mike Perrin, BA ’69, JD ’71, Life Member. Here are 11 takeaways from Perrin and Fenves’ remarks at the press conference.

1. Perrin has been on the Forty Acres, in one capacity or another, for 50 years. Perrin described first arriving on campus in December 1964, when he attended a practice Darrell Royal was running. He said he got an “electric feeling … a feeling I’ve never forgotten, and I hope I never do.” As a four-year letterman in football with UT degrees in mathematics and law, Perrin is clearly invested in the university and its student-athletes.

2. Perrin hopes to pass that electric feeling as an open current to fans. Alongside his obvious connection to Texas football as a former player, Perrin made it clear this morning that the fans are an integral piece of the success of Texas athletics across the board. Perrin said he was concerned by the empty seats at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium this past Saturday for the Rice game. “It is so important to the student-athlete that they have a full house when they play,” Perrin said, noting that it’s also important for the recruiting and retention of student-athletes and also for the families of Longhorn athletes. “Fans vote with their feet,” he said. Fans might be voting differently with these changes inside athletics offices. That’s because:

3. Perrin wants to engage directly with fans, alumni, students, and any group that wants to speak with him. This feet-on-the-ground approach directly opposes the chilly disposition of Steve Patterson, who was seen both internally and to Longhorn faithful as someone who prioritized the bottom line over the fan experience. He specifically called out the Texas Exes and the Alcalde as groups of people with which he’d like to engage, plus other fan groups and donors. “I’m not walking into this as a stranger to the UT community,” Perrin said.

4. Perrin won’t completely undo Patterson’s initiatives—at least not right away. When asked about the fan experience, specifically the outsourcing of a regular-season basketball game to China and the rising ticket prices in football and men’s basketball, Perrin said he has no plans “to undo” what is already in place. He will, however, “revisit some of those issues,” he’s heard regarding some of Patterson’s more unpopular moves.

5. He doesn’t use corporate speak. I listened closely, and Perrin didn’t once use the word “brand” to describe the Texas Longhorns. Also not heard: “product,” “underleveraged,” and “asset.” Perrin is squarely focused on the well-being of student-athletes and their families, the healthy transition of the athletic department to a permanent AD, and Longhorn fan satisfaction.

6. Perrin “stands firmly behind” Texas coaches, specifically Charlie Strong and Shaka Smart. When he met Strong shortly after his hiring—also a sign that Perrin has been involved in many capacities with athletics—he said they immediately hit it off. “He’s the real thing,” Perrin said. “I was so impressed with him.” Before the press conference, he met with Smart, and had this to say about the first-year Texas men’s basketball coach: “If you don’t get infectious about basketball with Shaka Smart, your switch isn’t turned on.” He concluded this portion of the press conference by saying he was “100% behind Smart and will remain so.”

7. Perrin is a serious Texas fan. Perrin was on his way from Austin to Houston with his wife when it was announced that Texas had hired the former Virginia Commonwealth University coach. “I did a left turn off Interstate 10 and made it to the press conference.” Again, Perrin is clearly someone who cares deeply about what happens with Texas athletics.

8. Perrin has the power. Though Perrin is the interim AD, his contract lasting through August of next year, he said that Fenves has not limited his authority, therefore squashing the notion that this post is ceremonial in nature. Perrin said that he wants to be as active as possible in decision-making in athletics, and that he hopes to still be around to affect real change in the department, including being around to transition to Patterson’s permanent replacement. “‘Interim’ is at the pleasure of the president,” Perrin said. “I would hope to be here long enough to see whatever changes [happen].”

9. Fenves called Perrin on Labor Day. Fenves contacted Perrin as far back as Labor Day to take his temperature on the interim AD position, signaling that parting ways with Patterson was in the works for longer than originally thought. “I was about to fire up the grill and the phone rang,” Perrin said. “We talked Sunday.”

10. DeLoss backs Perrin. Perrin seems to have the blessing of former AD DeLoss Dodds, who was in the Tower for Perrin’s introduction. Afterwards, when asked about Perrin, the 32-year UT athletics vet said he’d known Perrin for 34 years, and that, “he’s a friend and I want to be here to support him. He’s going to do great.” Perrin also mentioned that Dodds “is someone whose council I will seek. I respect him very much.”

11. Fenves really wants to beat Cal. Fenves stated that no plans are in place for a search committee for a permanent athletics director. “My focus today is a smooth and quick transition with Mike as interim athletic director,” he said. ” I have not made any decision or plans beyond getting through this transition successfully.” Fenves does, however, have one objective in the short term: “I am especially interested in defeating Cal this week, as a Cal alumnus and longtime faculty member.”

Above: New interim AD Mike Perrin and UT president Greg Fenves.

Image courtesy UT Athletics.


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