On Saturday as the Longhorns prepared to play Rice, fans couldn’t help but notice the noise of a single engine plane from overhead while they tailgated. A plane with a the trailing message, “PATTERSON MUST GO”.
— Jay Janner (@jayjanner) September 12, 2015
Three days later and it looks like whoever forked over the thousands of dollars just to make sure their message didn’t go ignored may have gotten their wish.
The Austin American-Statesman first reported Patterson’s impending termination this morning, and the Associated Press has since confirmed the AD is out after 22 months.
Texas athletic director 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, a person with direct knowledge of the decision said Tuesday.
Patterson met with new university President Greg Fenves on Tuesday morning, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced. The school did not immediately release details of the meeting or Patterson’s departure.
Despite being credited with big time hires in football head coach Charlie Strong and basketball head coach Shaka Smart, Patterson’s business-like approach made him enemies within the Longhorn’s most prominent supporters.
Even in landing top candidate (not named Nick Saban) in Charlie Strong, multi-million dollar booster Red McCombs publicly expressed frustration that he didn’t have more of a say in the process.
Frustrations were made worse with Patterson’s nickel and dime approach. He started charging distinguished alumni $25 for admission onto the field during facility tours. To make matters worse he left many scratching their head when he announced that coaches would no longer be able to eat for free. The change in policy was the last straw for tennis coach Danielle Lund McNamara, and she quit earlier this year.
“He has turned the Horns ‘brand’ into a commodity to be sold.”, said Sally Lehr, whose stepfather, Jones Ramsey, was the Longhorn’s sports information director for 22 years.
Texas has the wealthiest college athletic program on the planet, but Patterson couldn’t, or wouldn’t, stop fighting over pennies with those closest to the program. At one point it was reported that Patterson was told he needed to “change his personal style”.
Patterson’s reputation for thrifty is so strong that last week when it was reported that Texas would charge Texas Tech $100 a ticket for their band for the first time ever, it sparked outrage across college football media. It didn’t matter that Tech was actually the first to break the gentleman’s agreement the school’s had last year when they charged the Longhorns tickets for their band, or that the other Big 12 members charge the full price for tickets for traveling bands. Because of the reputation Patterson built though, the damage was already done.
According to the Austin American-Statesman it looks like Mike Perrin, a former Texas linebacker and member of the Longhorns Hall of Fame, will take over in the interim. Although we’ll probably know more once Texas makes an official announcement.
As far as who will replace Patterson on a more permanent basis one name has jumped out as an early favorite: Mack Brown. He seems like a natural fit, but given that many fans still blame him for the current state of things on the field, that might be a tough sell.