Hamilton had been offered the UT president's job by Texas regents, sources told HornsDigest.com on Wednesday.
One source close to the situation, however, feels like Hamilton used UT's offer to leverage NYU while buying time to pull it off by blaming alleged complications in getting out of the final year of a six-year commitment to Oxford.
The source said NYU offered Hamilton roughly $1.4 million per year, nearly doubling the salary of current UT president Bill Powers, who makes just more than $700,000.
Hamilton, a British chemist, served on the faculty at Princeton, was a former provost at Yale and served the past five years as vice chancellor at Oxford.
While Fenves lacks the experience of Hamilton in leading a university, Fenves is very aware of everything going on at UT, including the development of the new Dell Medical School and issues facing athletics in terms of new basketball and tennis facilities.
While leading the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT, Fenves helped raise the largest amount - $356 million - of any unit on campus in Powers' $3 billion Campaign for Texas. One of his major goals was to greenlight the Engineering Education and Research Center, a $310 million, 430,000-square-foot building dedicated to research and hands-on student projects. It began construction in 2013 and is scheduled to be completed in 2017.
Before coming to Texas, Fenves chaired the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of California-Berkeley (2002-07). Fenves, a Cal-Berkeley graduate, served on the faculty at Cal for 20 years.
Fenves, Hamilton and UT-Dallas president David Daniel all interviewed with regents to become Texas' next university president.
Fenves, the executive vice president and provost at UT since 2013, has been closely aligned with Powers, who has backed Fenves to become his successor. But a group of four regents who have opposed Powers (Eugene Powell, Alex Cranberg, Wallace Hall and Brenda Pejovich), also have opposed Fenves because of his alliance with Powers.
There had been some talk among those regents about possibly opening up a new search. But sources told HD Texas chancellor William McRaven opposes that idea, because it's hard enough to get top candidates already in top jobs to apply for a position - let alone apply a second time.
Sources told HD McRaven is backing Fenves.
It also appears a majority of the 9-member regents board - with two new members seated last week (Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck, both appointed by new Gov. Greg Abbott) - will back Fenves as well, sources told HD.
Fenves had been resisted by UT regents who opposed Powers. But one of those vocal critics, Eugene Powell, just left the UT regents board because his term expired.