Texas men’s athletic director Steve Patterson said Friday that he had met with President Gregory L. Fenves earlier in the day and that the two have “an excellent working relationship.”
Three days after Fenves released a statement that didn’t appear to support his AD, Patterson does not seem worried about his standing with the new president. “I feel good about it,” Patterson said.
“We’re excited about all the things we’re trying to do for the 500-plus men and women who represent our school day in and day out and try to have the most positive outcome as we can possibly have for them and the university as a whole,” he added. “I feel good about where we’re headed.”
In an hourlong discussion with reporters, Patterson touched on a wide array of issues, including the fact that he might have angered some donors with his business style. The American-Statesman reported Tuesday that Patterson and Fenves might not be on the same page, and that the AD’s job status could be up for discussion.
Patterson acknowledged some fans might be upset with recent changes, including higher football season ticket prices and added parking costs.
“Some people may like what we’re doing, and some people may not,” he said. “But somebody’s got to make tough decisions day in and day out to try to stay focused on what’s most important to us.”
Patterson and women’s AD Chris Plonsky said the lack of communication about various issues might be more to blame than the changes themselves. “We blew it – collectively,” Plonsky said.
Still, donations are coming in. Patterson said the athletic department received a $750,000 pledge from a donor at lunch Friday for academic services. “The folks I talk to are very demonstrative in support of what we’re doing,” Patterson said. “If there’s somebody out there that we need to talk to, Chris and I aren’t shy about that.
“I think when people look at the facts and understand what we’re doing, they generally agree with where we’re headed,” he added. “We cherish our folks that support us; we appreciate ’em, and we’re going to continue to work with them to push forward the goals we have here at the University of Texas.”
Patterson has been praised for hiring coaches Charlie Strong and Shaka Smart. The real test for an athletic director is fundraising for facility improvements. The new basketball arena and south end zone expansion of Royal-Memorial Stadium are not specifically addressed in the six-page manifesto to donors titled “Texas Athletics Overview.”
Patterson mentioned how there’s a new governor, new chancellor and new president who must all be on the same page for such major decisions.
“You need to take the time to make sure everybody has a complete understanding of what that means and complete alignment before we go forward on that,” Patterson said. “That’s going to take some time. How much exactly? I can’t tell you.”
One topic that brought a huge smile to Patterson’s face was Nike. Now that Michigan’s deal is known (15 years for $169 million), it’s expected that Texas will agree to a better deal with the apparel maker.
“I’m very excited what the maize-and-(blue) has been able to accomplish,” Patterson said.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957.