Longhorn senior Jonathon Levy displays his season tickets after picking them up inside Bellmont Hall. (Deborah Cannon/American-Statesman)

Football

Texas opting out of ticketing contract with The Aspire Group

Texas AD Mike Perrin opts to pull out of five-year contract initially signed by his predecessor, Steve Patterson.

Posted June 27th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • More than 30 Aspire employees who worked at DKR were stunned at Monday's news.
  • The Aspire Group was in the midst of a five-year contract with Texas athletics.
  • 'There appears to be no plan as to what happens now.'

Texas athletic director Mike Perrin has opted out of what was a five-year contract with The Aspire Group, which handled UT’s season-ticket selling and maintenance operation, two sources familiar with the decision told the American-Statesman.

A team of 32 Aspire employees who worked in the press box at Royal-Memorial Stadium were told of the decision on Friday. The sales group had not been given any indication this decision was forthcoming, sources said.

Perrin could not be reached late Monday. Bernie Mullin, who founded The Aspire Group, did not respond to messages left by the American-Statesman. Multiple employees who were part of Aspire’s team declined to comment.

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“There appears to be no plan as to what happens now,” one source said.

Former UT athletic director Steve Patterson brought The Aspire Group to campus in 2014. In prior years, Texas had essentially no outbound sales team. The ticket office simply waited for fans to call in with their annual renewals or respond to mailers.

Under Aspire, each UT season-ticket holder had a representative they could call with specific requests and various issues.

Initially, Patterson signed a one-year services contract where Aspire received a $15,000 monthly management fee. Ticket representatives, many of whom where in their mid- to late-20s, received commissions based on their weekly sales totals. Aspire also received revenue sharing bonuses after UT went more than 10 percent beyond its stated sales goals, but those bonuses were capped at 15 percent.

Under Aspire’s direction, the Texas box office saw sizable gains in single-game sales and mini-season ticket packages. After the first year, Texas and Aspire reached a new multi-year contract.

Sources said UT could opt out of its contract only if the sales team did not meet its stated annual goals. However, all sales goals were met for the 2015-16 athletic year, sources said.

Contracting with The Aspire Group was perceived as one of Patterson’s key successes. Hiring a third party was also needed apparently, based on the results of an extensive internal audit that discovered widespread malfeasance in the Longhorn Foundation regarding ticketing that happened prior to Patterson’s arrival.

In a five-page athletic department response to the internal audit, The Aspire Group was touted as a vendor “to work on site at Texas Athletics to provide support and services for our entire donor and fan base.”

By centralizing ticket sales, service, retention and other ticket operations into a single reporting chain, the document said, it “eliminated communication silos and fostered sharing of information.”

By hiring The Aspire Group, Patterson brought multiple ticket operations under one roof and had better control of real-time sales data. It’s unclear what group will assume Aspire’s duties, or if Texas will continue to have any outbound sales effort.

RELATED COVERAGE: UT audit finds Longhorns staff used prime seats to play favorites, help ticket brokers

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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