BEVO BEAT

Texas announces shakeup in communications staff

Posted June 15th, 2015

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The Texas athletic department announced a major shakeup in its communications staff on Monday that directly affects football.

In an advisory sent to reporters who cover the team, it was announced on Monday the school will begin a national search for a new Chief Communications Officer and a football sports information director, the point person who handles day-to-day relations with the media.

John Bianco, who has handled football media relations duties for more than 20 years, is leaving the department to “pursue other interests,” according to the advisory. Scott McConnell, who handles men’s basketball media responsibilities, will serve as the football contact on an interim basis.

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“We have been studying our communications framework and effectiveness for some time,” Texas Men’s Athletic Director Steve Patterson said in the advisory. “College athletics is facing many complex challenges, and Texas athletics requires a best-in-class, service oriented structure encompassing all forms of communications including traditional media, public relations, digital communications, and executive strategic communications.

“We will work to identify an individual who has strong strategic communications experience who can help us achieve our goals,” Patterson added.

As per university policy, both new jobs would have to be posted before being filled.

This is yet another major personnel move Patterson has made since taking over in November 2013.

His first public administrative move was to promote Randa Ryan to oversee all of the department’s academic concerns. She previously oversaw all sports but football until then.

Then, Patterson signed an agreement with The Aspire Group, which hired more than 20 full-time sales representatives to handle ticket sales. Patterson also hired one of his chief lieutenants from Arizona State, Steve Hank, to become the Longhorns’ new Chief Revenue Officer.

As time went along, the school parted ways with longtime employees at various levels, like Butch Woorley, Bill Little and Brian Davis.

Bianco joined the Texas staff in 1992 after serving as an assistant SID at Cincinnati. Within five years, he was sharing football media relations responsibilities.

In 1998, Bianco had a unique task. How do you promote a shy athlete for the Heisman Trophy? Ricky Williams routinely did interviews while wearing his helmet. Still, Williams became the NCAA Division I rushing champion under first-year coach Mack Brown, with Bianco serving as the point person for reporters.

Williams became the second player in school history to win the Heisman.

Bianco handled football media relations during the Longhorns’ national championship run in 2005 and remained in the same position in 2009, the year Texas lost to Alabama in the Rose Bowl. The Endwell, N.Y., native held the same position after Charlie Strong was hired prior to the 2014 season.

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