Thursday, June 18, 2015

Longhorn Athletic Director Patterson "alienating virtually everyone"

"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Proverbs 29:1

Even by U.T. standards, the arrogance here is ASTONISHING:
Sally Lehr, one of 158 members of Texas’ class of 1964 back on campus for their 50th reunion last September, asked athletic director Steve Patterson why he wanted to charge them $25 per person to go stand on the football field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
Just to relive some memories.
“He said it was expensive to allow people on the field. They had to turn on the lights. They had to have people leading the tour and a groundskeeper,” Lehr recalled. “He said if athletics had to pay for all of that, they might have to cut the donation they made to the UT library.
Offenses are myriad:
But more and more inside the Longhorn community are fed up with what they say is an athletic director who can’t or won’t relate to people and who puts making money or saving money above everything – even Texas student-athletes and coaches, who have seen cuts by Patterson impact them directly.
After more than three dozen interviews with those connected to Texas athletics, Patterson, who spent most of his career in the front offices of pro teams (Houston’s Rockets, Texans and Aeros as well as president and GM of the Portland Trail Blazers), is being blamed for misleading football season ticket holders, being disingenuous about funding for a new tennis facility (leading to a coach’s resignation), alienating longtime donors as well as faculty and staff, running off UT’s band director, defying former school president Bill Powers, planting a vicious press leak targeting former basketball coach Rick Barnes and of being more loyal to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott than to those at Texas or the Big 12.
Gouging season ticket holders after a mediocre football season:
On March 9, Texas athletics announced its 2015 football season ticket renewal package, including this line: “To help shoulder the increased costs of recent changes in NCAA policy, seat prices across the stadium have increased by an average of six percent.”
According to numbers obtained by through an open records request, football season ticket holders were being handed a cost increase in 2015 by an average of 21.5 percent – with the Longhorns coming off a 6-7 season and a 5-year record of 36-28.
Oklahoma opted not to raise football ticket prices for 2015 after the Sooners went 8-5, capped by a blowout bowl loss to Clemson.
Steve Hank, chief revenue officer of Texas athletics, told the 6 percent average increase (actually 5.7 percent, he said, but it was rounded up) was based on a formula that involved the value of each seat “spread across” the entire, 100,119-seat capacity of Royal-Memorial Stadium.
But when comparing exactly what football season ticket holders paid in 2014, including their contribution to the Longhorn Foundation to retain those tickets, to what they are paying in 2015, season tickets were increased an average of 21.5 percent.
Of the 57,233 season ticket holders in 2014, 59 percent (33,695) experienced a season ticket cost increase for 2015 of between 25 percent and 50 percent, records show.
The nickling and diming isn't limited to fans:
While there have been tens of thousands of dollars spent by Patterson on fact-finding trips to places such as Shanghai, China, and Dubai to increase UT’s marketing profile, there has been broad cost-cutting within the department that has directly impacted student-athletes and coaches.
* Travel cuts have meant the baseball team taking seven-hour bus trips toTexas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, when Texas used to fly commercial to those destinations. OU and Texas A&M fly to every baseball game longer than a three-hour bus ride.
  * A 737 charter with 50 first-class seats used by Texas basketball since 2008 has been cut from the budget for 2015-16 in favor of less expensive, smaller regional jet charters, sources said.
Texas and Kansas were the only B12 schools flying the 737 charters, something former coach Rick Barnes fought for in contract negotiations so KU wouldn’t have a recruiting edge in how the Jayhawks travel.
UT’s perennial power women’s volleyball team - in the Final Four six of the last seven years and national champs in 2012 - had its charter to West Virginia cut for next season, sources said. 
Morgantown is UT’s most difficult road trip from a time and logistics standpoint. The team will fly commercial, which can add as many as five hours to the trip because the team flies to Pittsburgh and then buses more than an hour to Morgantown. 
*  And after The Masters, a golf magazine contacted Texas about buying an ad to congratulate former Longhorn Jordan Spieth for winning his first green jacket at Augusta National.  
The money for the ad was taken from the golf program’s recruiting budget rather than athletic department funds, sources said. 
Sources said football coach Charlie Strong, who saw his and his coaching staff’s personal ticket allotment cut from eight to four last year, fought to increase the salaries of his eight quality control coaches from $24,000 to $50,000 after last season.
Texas has the lowest salaries in the Big 12 for its quality control coaches – even behind last-place football finisher Kansas ($45,000).
Strong’s request was denied by Patterson, and six of Texas’ eight quality control coaches who had built relationships with the rest of the staff, left to find better paying jobs, the sources said.
Coaches used to be allowed to go into the athletic dining hall whenever they wanted under Dodds, often to bond with their student-athletes or have a one-on-one conversation. Under Patterson, coaches are only allowed 30 visits per year. If coaches go to the athletic dining hall more than that, they have to pay $10 for each visit out of their own pocket. 
Sources said this new policy had a negative impact on Danielle Lund McNamara, who stepped down as Texas’ women’s tennis coach last month out of frustration. UT didn’t have a tennis facility this season, and won’t next year, because the previous facility was demolished to make room for a new medical school. 
Patterson pinching pennies by cutting the number of times a UT coach can go into the athletic dining hall helped gut an already unstable women's tennis program, sources said.
"There was no place for Coach McNamara to meet with her team," one source close to the situation said. "Was she going to use her own money each time she wanted to go into the athletic dining hall just to meet with her players? She'd be taking a pay cut. Come on. It's ridiculous."
* Texas band director Rob Carnochan just quit to take another job (at Miami) after Patterson cut $250,000 out of the band budget last year, resulting in less travel for the full band and a first-ever $132 fee charged to members to pay for their own practice and travel gear.
The full Texas band used to go to every in-state football game. But under Patterson, the full band no longer goes to Texas Tech, a longstanding rival of the Texas band. UT now sends only a “pep band” of section leaders. In 2015-16, the full band will go to the Texas-OU game and to either TCU or Baylor – but not both.
“I have loved my time at the University of Texas and working with class acts such as (former UT president) Larry Faulkner, DeLoss Dodds and Mack Brown,” Carnochan said. “My passion has always been the students and making sure they have a great experience, and it always will.”
 Pie in the sky foreign travel:
Those inside the department say Patterson seems to rely more on the opinion of Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott than anyone affiliated with Texas or the Big 12.
Patterson, who grew close to Scott while athletic director at Arizona State, is a big supporter of Scott’s Pac-12 Globalization Initiative, which includes Texas’ basketball season opener against Washington in Shanghai, China, this November and a proposed football game in Mexico in the near future.
Sources said Scott has struggled to find a Pac-12 school to agree to play in Mexico, in part, because of the security risk in taking student-athletes and fans into a country plagued with drug cartel violence.
Patterson, however, said last month there’s a better chance of Texas playing a football game in Mexico by 2020 than the Longhorns facing Texas A&M (even though Charlie Strong has said he thinks UT and A&M need to renew their rivalry). 
Sources told HD Patterson was asked by a member of then-coach Rick Barnes’ staff about the prudence of sending the basketball team to China for a game on Nov. 13 as part of the Pac-12’s Globalization Initiative when Texas was already scheduled to go to the Bahamas for a tournament from Nov. 21-27.
The concern was that student-athletes on the basketball team would be away from class for half the month with finals approaching. Sources said Patterson responded with an email that said simply, “We’re going.”
Patterson never consulted with Barnes about the China trip ahead of time and has never consulted with Charlie Strong about playing a football game in Mexico, according to sources close to the situation. Many season ticket holders have complained that they would not want a marquee home game against a Pac-12 opponent being played in Mexico instead of Austin. 
Patterson last month sent an envoy from Texas to Dubai, including Patterson’s wife, Yasmine Michael, who speaks Arabic, as well as Mack and Sally Brown, former Texas tight end David Thomas and former UT fullback Ricky Brown, now with the Longhorn Foundation.
According to UT officials, the trip, which cost tens of thousands of dollars, was meant as a fact-finding mission about how Texas could promote its brand in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates. Those inside the department who have had their budgets cut as Patterson continues to spend for his obsession with international marketing/branding say morale is plummeting.
Going after gameday stadium employees:
Patterson agreed to renew the contract with Sodexo, UT’s catering and concessions provider, for another 10 years with the stipulation that every Sodexo employee servicing the Texas account be replaced.

Why? Sources said it was because Patterson suspected someone at Sodexo with leaking to the press in February 2014 that UT was about to start selling beer and wine at spring sporting events.

“It was Patterson’s call for a leadership change,” said former Texas basketball player Ivan Wagner, one of the 11 Sodexo employees on the Texas account who were fired. “Sodexo, in an effort to secure the contract, made the moves.
[Author's Note; Without going into to much detail, it was obvious last season that having a bunch of new people working Sodexo created problems.]

Then this is just a jerk move:
The 3,000 faculty and 18,000 staff members at Texas had their football season tickets double in price, when the athletic department blindsided them with an email in the summer of 2014 saying a long-term benefit program was being replaced with a straight 20 percent discount.
Astonishingly, Patterson makes Bill Powers look good by comparison:
Those sources said Patterson blatantly defied or ignored Powers on several instances:
    *   Things got most heated between the two after Patterson, already told no by Powers, tried to convince others in the administration that athletics needed to stop splitting the $15 million annually from the Longhorn Network with the central university, the sources said 
* Sources say Patterson also defied Powers by continuing to claim $15 million needs to be raised for a new tennis facility when the university set that money aside 10 months ago. More on this in a minute.  
Patterson said in an interview with Texas Monthly last September, the city of Austin should help pay for UT’s new basketball arena because the city had gotten a free ride for 30 years by not having to bear any of the costs of the Erwin Center, which is planned for demolition in 5-8 years as part of UT’s new medical school. 
Afterward, Powers basically apologized on behalf of Patterson and said to Patterson that Patterson should meet with the mayor’s office about any possible partnerships for a new basketball arena, sources said. Patterson had yet to meet with anyone from the mayor’s office as of the end of May, officials in the mayor’s office said. 
*  The sources said Powers also wasn’t happy there were more full-time athletic department employees now (400) than when Patterson was hired (360) in November 2013.
Bizarre treatment of the tennis team:
Multiple sources told 10 months ago Powers made it clear to Patterson that $15 million for a new tennis facility was being deducted from a total of $50 million that athletics was set to share with the central university.  
Sources said it was important to Powers that the university - not athletics - pay for a new facility because athletics had no say in the demolition of Penick-Allison, which was razed last June.  
But for months Patterson would never acknowledge the $15 million when asked by about the funding for the facility. And, internally, Patterson kept telling everyone in the department every penny had to be raised to pay for it. 
And yet, for all of his obsession with money, it looks like Patterson can't raise it:
 Patterson has articulated goals with huge financial price tags: $450 million for a new basketball arena … $300 million for endowed scholarships … and at least $180 million to renovate the south end of DKR.  
But he may be his own worst enemy when it comes to raising money - one of the most important jobs of an athletic director.   
Ask any athletic director in a Power 5 conference and they'll tell you they are personally responsible for looking after the top 40 or 50 donors to athletics. Multiple sources said Patterson is incapable of that because he lacks the people skills. 
So more and more people have been hired at Texas to do the fund-raising for him. Multiple sources said Patterson's wife, Yasmine Michael, is now taking a lead role in donor relations. 
And Patterson has turned to his coaches to raise money - something former AD DeLoss Dodds always discouraged because it often put coaches in difficult positions. 
That was another reason McNamara resigned as women's tennis coach, sources said. She was having a hard enough time coaching and meeting with her players without a facility to start worrying about having to be the program's fund-raiser, too, they said. 
Patterson himself has ruined the relationships with at least two donors who came forward with plans to give at least $1 million toward the tennis facility, those donors said. 
The donors asked not to be identified. But both told that they wanted to meet with Patterson about potential naming rights. Both said they had numerous forms of correspondence initially ignored by Patterson's office before working with members of the Longhorn Foundation to set up a meeting with Patterson. 
Both donors said they had more than one meeting canceled by Patterson initially. And then when they finally did meet with Patterson, the Texas athletic director let them know he was very short on time. 
"The athletic director - supposedly desperate to raise money for a new tennis facility - tells me he only has 15 minutes when we sit down for lunch?" one of the donors said. "I said, 'I'm sorry. I thought you all were asking me for help.'" 
The meetings went so badly, according to the donors, they both have vowed never to give any money to Texas while Patterson is the athletic director.
We don't have anything else to add.

Read the whole thing here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.