For the umpteenth time, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said Tuesday he has little or no interest in scheduling a football game with Texas A&M. He’s thinking globally and hopes to push the Longhorns’ brand to places like China and possibly Dubai.
“At some point and time in the future does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don’t know,” Patterson said. “It’s not at the top of my list.”
But Patterson left no doubt where he stands on the controversial issue of college athletes forming a union, which would dramatically change the landscape of amateur athletics. That is the crux of the Northwestern case currently generating national headlines.
Patterson believes that the University of Texas is a place for amateurism, although he’s for increasing the stipend given to athletes to cover the full cost of tuition. Some have pegged that at around $2,000 per athlete.
“If you’re a football player coming out of high school that decides you want to go to the pros, go take up your issue with Roger Goodell, the owners and the union,” Patterson said. “That’s your place to go, if you want to go play professional football, if you want to go be an employee.
“If you want to go play professional basketball, go the D-league, knock yourself out, then go into the draft to the NBA,” he continued. “That’s your place if you want to be an employee, if you want to be a professional. This is not your place.
“This is student-athlete athletics.”
A&M, amateurism and upgrading Texas’ athletic facilities were all topics for discussion Tuesday in Patterson’s first sit-down press conference since being hired last November.
Patterson said he’d like to grow the athletic department’s endowment so that every sport has its own revenue base, much like the Stanford model. Patterson said it’s unfair to make one sport — in Texas’ case, football — foot the bill for every other program.
Patterson talks about “telling the story about UT around the planet.” That’s why the men’s basketball program will play Washington in China in November 2015. Patterson said he’s due to meet with Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott soon to flesh out more details about that trip.
As for a new basketball arena, Patterson said it’s way too early in the process to speculate on where it might be located. He said the Longhorns will continue to play in the Erwin Center for the next “five, six, eight” years.
“Eventually, we’ll be in a new arena,” Patterson said. “I think there’s probably more interest among this group (the media) than lots of other folks in that.”
As for a possible south end zone enclosure of Royal-Memorial Stadium, the department has already started a study to see what’s feasible.
“I want to see what the design looks like and what the financial modeling looks like,” Patterson said.
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