Steve Patterson Out as Men’s Athletics Director


Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.

University of Texas president Greg Fenves has accepted the resignation of men’s athletics director Steve Patterson, university officials confirmed today. Fenves and Patterson met this morning, and after an all-day session the two agreed that Patterson’s time at Texas is at an end. According to Patterson’s guaranteed five-year contract, which began in November 2013, he is owed at least $5.6 million over the next four years. Patterson’s contract does not contain a buyout clause.

Though a new permanent AD has not been named, former Texas linebacker Mike Perrin, Life Member, BA ’69, JD ’71, Life Member, will take over as interim AD until a successor has been chosen. Perrin, who played for the Longhorns in the late ’60s and is a member of the UT Men’s Hall of Honor, will sign a contract through at least August 2016. His credentials, Fenves said, “are impeccable.”

“Athletics is vitally important to the Longhorn nation,” Fenves said in a statement released to media. “For many, athletics is the front door to the university. The excellence and integrity of our program shines a bright light on all we do. Mike, a devoted Longhorn and respected Texan, has worked throughout his career to make the university a better place and is highly qualified to do so again in this new role.”

Some names floating around for Patterson’s permanent replacement are former head football coach Mack Brown and Oliver Luck, a Law School alum and former West Virginia AD whose name came up during the search in which Patterson was hired to replace 32-year Texas AD DeLoss Dodds in 2013.

Patterson’s rocky tenure lasted 22 months at Texas during which he made a series of controversial decisions. He raised ticket prices for football and men’s basketball games, planned to move some UT games abroad, fired longtime athletics employee John Bianco, and refused to settle the lawsuit between offensive line coach Joe Wickline and his former employer, Oklahoma State University. In his short time as AD, Patterson got crossways with donors, fans, the City of Austin, university officials, and the Longhorn coaching staff. A plane flew over DKR before the Rice game on Saturday, dragging a banner that read: “Patterson Must Go.” His chilly disposition was also a matter of contention and sharply contrasted that of his predecessor. His hiring of coaches Charlie Strong and Shaka Smart, however, were widely praised.

The tension between Patterson and the university came to a head last week, when, during a September 8 meeting with the Statesman editorial board, Fenves declined to voice support for Patterson. When asked, Fenves replied: “I guess the best way to describe it is I’m working with him and we are continuing to work through the issues.” Fenves remarks almost completely overshadowed a press conference Patterson was holding at the exact same time touting the economic impact that Texas Athletics has on the state of Texas and the Austin community.

Since news broke this morning of Patterson’s removal, a number of prominent media personalities have made supporting comments of John Bianco on Twitter, using the hashtag #BringBackBianco. Bianco was the director of football media relations who Patterson fired without consulting or even notifying head coach Charlie Strong. Bianco’s replacement has not been found.

Patterson came to Texas from Arizona State University, where he served as Vice President of University Athletics and AD. Patterson was president of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers from 2003-07. In a prepared farewell statement, Patterson thanked Fenves for his graciousness throughout the process that led to his resignation.

“After considerable discussion, The University of Texas at Austin President, Gregory Fenves, and I have agreed that our great university will be best served by a new men’s athletic director,” Patterson said. “Accordingly, I have agreed to step aside effective today. Change is never easy, but I have every confidence that UT Athletics will continue to thrive as it embraces the future.”

File photo of Steve Patterson courtesy UT Athletics.