In an extensive article, the Horns Digest is reporting that frustrations are growing around Austin with new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson. He took over the position in 2013 after DeLoss Dodds retired after 32 years. Since taking over, Patterson has brought in big-time coaches in Joe Wickline, Charlie Strong, and Shaka Smart. However, he’s not impressing everyone.
“He has turned the Horns ‘brand’ into a commodity to be sold.”, Sally Lehr said.
Lehr, who’s stepfather, Jones Ramsey, served as the Longhorn’s sports information director from 1961 to 1983, was dumbfounded when Patterson wanted to charge members of Texas’ 1964 class $25 to tour Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
“He said it was expensive to allow people on the field. They had to turn on the lights. They had to have people leading the tour and a groundskeeper,” Lehr told the Horns Digest. “He said if athletics had to pay for all of that, they might have to cut the donation they made to the UT library.
“I was stunned by his arrogance and avarice,” added Lehr.
“I was raised in a household where you did everything you could to promote the Longhorns any way that you could. I was dumbfounded he thought that was a good public relations move – to charge $25 for people to step on the football field.”
Lehr went on to say that members of the class were originally told the tour, that was free under Dodds, would be $15 before it was increased to $25. They didn’t step onto the field that weekend.
That’s just the opening segment of the 12-part article. Those close to the program are blaming Paterson for a myriad of problems; everything from financial decisions like increasing the cost of the average football ticket price 21.5% from a year ago and not being entirely honest about funding for a new tennis facility, to hurting the very coaches he’s lauded for hiring and running off the band director.
Here’s a sample of the frustrations listed in the report:
- Thanks to travel cuts, baseball travels by bus to OU, Tech, and OSU. Seven-hour trips to places they used to fly.
- A golf magazine contacted Texas about buying an ad to congratulate former UT golfer Jordan Spieth for winning the Masters. Instead of taking that money from athletic funds, it was taken out of the golf program’s recruiting budget.
- Patterson denied head coach Charlie Strong’s request to increase the quality control coaches salaries from $24,000 to $50,000. Texas, the wealthiest program in the country, has the lowest quality control salaries in the Big 12.
- Student athletes may finally be allowed to eat for free at the athletic dining hall, but now if coaches go more than 30 times a year, they’re charged $10 a meal.
- Band director Rob Carnochan quit last year after Patterson cut $250,000 from the budget last year, which lead to band members paying $132 for their practice and travel gear.
- There’s also concern about Patterson’s international agenda. The basketball team is playing in China this November, and Patterson has said there’s a better chance of Texas playing in Mexico by 2020, than playing Texas A&M. The biggest complaint? Player safety, and sources say former basketball coach Rick Barnes was never consulted about the game abroad, and the Longhorns were already scheduled to play a tournament in the Bahamas from November 21st to the 27th. That’s a lot of time to miss with finals approaching.
- As part of that international agenda Paterson recently sent Mack Brown “on a fact-finding mission” to Dubai. A decision that’s hard for those around the program to understand when their own travel charters have been cancelled.
- Patterson is also accused of “flexing to flex”. From the article; “Patterson agreed to renew the contract with Sodexo, UT’s catering and concessions provider, for another 10 years with the stipulation that every Sodexo employee servicing the Texas account be replaced.Why? Sources said it was because Patterson suspected someone at Sodexo with leaking to the press in February 2014 that UT was about to start selling beer and wine at spring sporting events.” – The Longhorns indeed starting selling beer and wine at spring sporting events last year, and yesterday it was announced that Texas will be selling beer and wine at football games this season.
- Season tickets have been doubled for Texas staff and faculty from last season. DOUBLED. That’s a huge increase, and a decision tough to justify given the state of the football program the last few years.
Amazingly, the list of frustrations is much, much longer. Go read the article. It’s incredible, and damming. The article does point out there are those that support Patterson, but given the extent of these allegations it’s abundantly clear that Patterson may be on the hot seat before Charlie Strong should Texas not return to glory.
Perhaps Matt Herring, one of the highest ranking members in Texas’ new Loyalty Points program, put it best:
“Obviously, when 10,000 season ticket holders do not renew, when most of them are probably excited about the football coach and recruiting, there is a problem.”