Steve Patterson: Texas athletic director fired ‘reports say’

Steve Patterson : Texas athletic director fired, reports say

Steve Patterson has been fired after two rocky years on the job, pushed out after clashing with fans and donors upset with his aggressive push to raise money for the nation’s wealthiest athletic department.

Multiple sources confirmed Tuesday morning that new Texas president Greg Fenves has decided to fire Patterson after he alienated fans, faculty, donors and coaches at Texas. Mike Perrin, a linebacker on the 1969 national championship team, is expected to be named the new interim AD, sources said.

The move comes just two games into the football season and with Texas in the midst of negotiating a new equipment and apparel deal.

Fenves had met multiple times with Patterson about his personal approach, and had planned to evaluate Patterson at the end of the calendar year. But things worsened and Fenves made the move after consulting with the UT board of regents.

About 10,000 football season-ticket holders didn’t renew in the wake of price increases. More than 7,000 Texas tickets remain for the AT&T Red River Showdown with Oklahoma, not long ago one of the hottest tickets in college football.

A “PATTERSON MUST GO” banner flew over Royal-Memorial Stadium.

Even Texas’ deep-pocketed money base was put off by what seemed Patterson’s fixation with the bottom line above all. Still, Texas somehow lost nearly $3 million in the last calendar year.

He cut back budgets for sports, including air travel. His foray into branding with a men’s basketball opener in China and talk of a football game in Mexico didn’t generate much enthusiasm.

He distanced himself from a lawsuit involving current football assistant Joe Wickline and fellow Big 12 member Oklahoma State that has led to coaches being deposed under oath. The Tulsa World reported last week that Texas and Wickline declined at Oklahoma State offer to settle for $250,000, less than 50 percent of the amount under dispute.

Longtime athletic department employees start to exit, some by choice, some not.

Even an erroneous story about Texas charging opposing bands — part of a new policy involving all Big 12 schools in the state — persisted on the internet last week because it fit the image of Patterson.

In short, he became a lightning rod.

Patterson was in the second year of a five-year contract that paid him $1.4 million and did not contain a buyout.

Despite having both an undergraduate and law degree from Texas, the former NBA executive with Houston and Portland was a surprise choice to replace DeLoss Dodds after 32 years. Oliver Luck, then the AD at West Virginia and now a top executive at the NCAA, was viewed as the front-runner. But Patterson impressed the Texas search committee with his business knowledge and an apparent willingness to make hard choices, including on football coach Mack Brown.

After Patterson fired Brown under pressure from donors and regents, he hired Charlie Strong from Louisville after flirtations with Baylor’s Art Briles and UCLA’s. Strong went 6-7 in his first year after dismissing nine players from the roster for violations of his “core values.”

This spring, he fired longtime men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes and was able to land VCU’s Shaka Smart where schools like Maryland and UCLA had failed.

Despite the two high-profile hires, Patterson never managed to win over the fan base.