Fenves met with Strong and Smart on Sunday to inform them of his decision to let go of Patterson, two sources told HD. And any notion that Patterson being forced out is an indication that Strong's job security is being threatened are off-base, sources said. The move was made to help provide adequate athletic director support for Texas coaches, the sources said.
One source said Strong told Fenves that Patterson had relayed to Strong it was Fenves' idea to move academic support for football out of Moncrief-Neuhaus (the football complex) and into the north end of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, where the rest of academic support for athletics is stationed.
Fenves then told Strong that Fenves had not been involved in any discussions about that and was appalled. Ultimately, academic support for football was kept in Moncrief-Neuhaus, because Strong vehemently opposed the move.
After announcing Steve Patterson's resignation Tuesday night, Fenves declined to discuss details of any severance package.
HornsDigest.com reported earlier Tuesday Patterson was offered a one-year buyout (roughly $1.4 million) or face the possibility of being fired for cause, according to two sources. Patterson, who accepted the buyout offer, according to the two sources, was 22 months into a guaranteed, five-year deal paying him roughly $1.4 million annually. Reports that Patterson will receive the remaining $5.6 million on his contract are dead wrong.
Fenves said there wasn't one thing that led to Patterson's resignation but said "the risks of not accepting his resignation at this time and trying to have him stay outweighed the benefits. So we mutually agreed this was the right time."
"Athletics is the front door to the university, and we want to make sure it remains a welcoming front door," Fenves said
Fenves declined to go into detail.
"We are concerned about our fans and how they view the overall program and Longhorn athletics," Fenves said.
Interim AD Mike Perrin, a Houston trial attorney and former Longhorns' football player under Darrell Royal (Class of 1968) who is very connected and respected in UT circles, will be contracted through August 2016 at a salary of $750,000.
Perrin will be introduced at a press conference on Wednesday. Perrin's wife, Melinda, is also a connected Longhorn having served as a former head of the Longhorn Foundation Advisory Council, which helps oversee the fund-raising arm of Texas athletics.
Fenves said he is putting off any search for a new athletic director, adding a timetable for such a search "is undetermined at this time."
Long-term candidates who could become Texas' next AD would have to include Oliver Luck, currently the No. 2 at the NCAA, who was the other finalist for the Texas job when it was awarded to Patterson 22 months ago. Sources told HD Mack Brown, who is already on the Texas payroll in a fund-raising job paying him $500,000 per year, is not an athletic director candidate.
One day after HornsDigest.com reported Texas president Gregory Fenves was near done with athletic director Steve Patterson, UT regents and Fenves had a conference call Monday night to end Patterson's tenure as AD, two sources told HornsDigest.com.
The sources told HornsDigest.com one of Fenves' top concerns is the number of donors - small and large - who have expressed they will no longer give to athletics as long as Patterson is in place.
Fenves ascended from provost at Texas to school president in June. And there's been steady drama involving the athletic director since, sources said.
Those complaints have ranged from a lack of transparency in handling football season ticket holders and financing for a new tennis facility to poor outreach with donors and failed communication with his own department employees – including his own coaches.
None of UT’s major men’s coaches report directly to Patterson. Football coach Charlie Strong, basketball coach Shaka Smart and baseball coach Augie Garrido all report to associate AD Arthur Johnson, who then relays any of their concerns to Patterson.
Nike is in the final month of its exclusive negotiation period with Texas before a bidding war is likely to ensue (in October) between Nike and Under Armour to be UT’s shoe/apparel sponsor. A school’s shoe company can have an impact on recruiting, but Patterson has not consulted any of his coaches on this decision, sources said.
Multiple sources told HornsDigest.com Fenves back in June outlined for his athletic director numerous complaints that were brought to Fenves’ attention about Patterson.
Those complaints came from dozens of angry donors, including some of Texas’ top givers, sources said. Those donors felt Patterson was running UT like a cold, unfeeling pro sports franchise that views UT faithful as faceless customers – not passionate alums.
As a result, 10,000 football season ticket holders didn't renew for 2015 after an average cost increase of 21.5 percent, coming off a 6-7 season and a five-year record of 36-28.
Texas generously announced a crowd of 86,458 (capacity 100,119) for the Longhorns' 42-28 win over Rice Saturday.
The Red River Shootout against Oklahoma on Oct. 10 - normally one of the toughest tickets in college football - has roughly 8,000 unsold tickets on the Texas side of the Cotton Bowl.
Men's basketball ticket prices were raised an average of 7 percent by Patterson one year after he raised them an average of 4 percent.
Others complained to Fenves that Texas is losing stature politically in the Big 12 and nationally, sources said, because Patterson doesn’t have the stature and/or relationships across college athletics of former 32-year, UT athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
The bulk of Patterson's career has been in professional sports (Houston Rockets, Texans and Aeros as well as president and GM of the Portland Trailblazers). Patterson had been a college athletic director for 18 months at Arizona State before getting hired at Texas.
Patterson came to rely on the communications perspective of Jeff Hunt, a Texas graduate who serves as the paid media consultant to the Pac-12, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and the Pac-12 Network.
Hunt used to be a partner with Paul Walker in Pulse Point, an Austin-based consulting group contracted by Powers' office beginning in 2010 (under Walker's name) for a fee of roughly $300,000 per year before Pulse Point was sold in 2013, sources said.
Hunt, a lecturer in UT's school of communications but not listed anywhere on the Texas athletic department payroll, became Patterson's closest confidante. Hunt helped plan the marketing strategy for the 2015 football season ticket renewal package as well as a survey of the media that led to the firing of longtime Texas sports information director John Bianco, sources said.
Hunt tried to work closely with Austin American-Statesman reporters Brian Davis and Kirk Bohls in an attempt to secure favorable coverage for Patterson and Patterson's management of UT athletics, multiple sources said.
Sources said Fenves gave Patterson a directive in June to repair any damaged donor relationships or communications and to basically make Fenves’ email stop filling up and his phone stop ringing.
But that didn't happen, sources close to Fenves say.
On Saturday, before the Rice game, an airplane banner flew over the Texas campus saying: “PATTERSON MUST GO”
While Patterson was credited with hiring football coach Charlie Strong and basketball coach Shaka Smart as well as bringing beer and wine sales to Texas sporting events, sources say he alienated some of the Longhorns’ biggest boosters.
Billionaire Houston trial lawyer Joe Jamail, 89, who has given tens of millions of dollars to the university and whose name is on the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium as well as UT’s swim center, canceled his suite at Texas football games this year.
Jamail declined to be interviewed about the decision. But those close to Jamail, who still practices law, say he’s disenchanted with the direction of UT athletics.
Texas is now using Jamail’s former suite to host the visiting team’s athletic director.
Criticism of Patterson also included replacing one athletic department employee with Texas roots after another, with outsiders loyal to Patterson. That practice led to some frustrated employees with Texas roots leaving on their own.
Last week, the latest to resign from the Longhorn Foundation, the fund-raising arm of Texas athletics, was former Texas Olympic gold medal swimmer Ricky Berens.
Berens’ departure follows that of David Onion, one of Texas athletics’ top fund-raisers, who left to raise money for UT’s law school; Andrew Hamor, who left to lead Kansas State’s athletics development; and Tyler Mariucci, the son of former football coach Steve Mariucci, who accepted a job at Texas only to reconsider and take a promotion at Maryland.
“While some individuals have retired and others have advanced to jobs elsewhere, a good deal is due to restructuring of our ticket operation, and that function moving out of the Foundation,” Patterson said. “The Longhorn Foundation is, rightly, focused on philanthropic fundraising.”
The Texas athletics communications’ office, which has 10 staff positions, currently only has five filled.
After Patterson fired Bianco, a 23-year UT employee given five minutes to access his computer before it was shut off, four other staff members have quit.
Bianco’s dismissal, made without consulting football coach Charlie Strong, has left Strong without a trusted media adviser in a football season that got off to a turbulent start following a 38-3 loss to Notre Dame and Strong’s decision to change offensive play callers.
“It is an important position,” Patterson said Saturday of the media relations director in charge of football, which has added responsibility helping to coordinate the needs of the ESPN-run Longhorn Network. “Our focus is on the right decision, not the fast decision.”
Bianco was let go three months ago on June 15.
On Sept. 1, Patterson held a press conference touting the economic impact Texas athletics has on the city of Austin.
Fenves, meanwhile, was meeting with the editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman, where he was asked if he supported Patterson.
“Let me see how I should put this. I’m working with him, and we are continuing to work through issues,” Fenves told the Statesman editorial board of Patterson.
On Sept. 4, the night before the Notre Dame game, at a high-dollar Texas reception thrown by donors for Fenves at the top of the Hancock Tower in Chicago, Fenves acknowledged some key figures in the room.
He publicly thanked Texas chancellor Adm. William McRaven as well as those who helped organize the event. But Fenves made no acknowledgement of Patterson, who was also in the room.
Sources said there were no name tags for Patterson and his wife, Yasmine Michael, when they checked in for the reception for Fenves.
That allegedly led to a fit thrown by Michael, who has gotten very involved in donor relations at Texas. The lack of name tags also led to questions about if Patterson and Michael were invited, sources said.
“I was invited to the President’s reception in Chicago last Friday, which we attended along with other events," Patterson said Saturday.
On Wednesday, interim athletic director Mike Perrin will be introduced. Then, the question for Fenves will be finding an athletic director whose name tag would never be forgotten.