Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson has agreed to become the next athletic director at Texas.
The hiring was initially reported by Orangebloods.com and Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel and was confirmed late Tuesday morning by Arizona State, which appointed senior vice president James Rund as interim athletic director.
Orangebloods.com said Patterson interviewed with a Texas advisory committee assisting last weekend and "blew the committee away." West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck, the father of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, was reportedly the other candidate under consideration.
Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reported that he would be paid about $1.4 million a year over the course of a multi-year contract. The Arizona Board of Regents recently approved a contract extension for Patterson at ASU paying him $450,000 a year.
"Steve Patterson emerged as the perfect candidate to build on Texas’ athletic success and DeLoss Dodds’ legacy," Texas President Bill Powers said.
In a statement released by ASU, Patterson expressed excitement about returning to his alma mater and disappointment at leaving behind unfinished business:
"My family has lived in Texas for over 40 years. I have many ties that run deep there with business associates, friends and family, including my 92-year old mother, my brother and members of my wife’s family. We are all excited to have the opportunity to come home.
"While I’m very excited about the opportunity at Texas, at the same time, I’m disappointed that I won’t be at ASU to see all of the great projects that started during my tenure come to fruition.
Patterson, 55, replaced Lisa Love as Arizona State’s athletic director in March 2012. He had been hired a year earlier as the school’s chief operating officer for athletics. He has an undergraduate degree and law degree from Texas and held upper management positions with the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans prior to his hiring at ASU.
ASU president Michael Crow issued a statement praising Patterson’s short tenure at the school: "During his stay at ASU, Steve Patterson has positioned Sun Devil Athletics to continue its forward momentum well into the future. He first became involved with ASU three years ago to put the university’s athletic department on a sound financial footing and that is exactly what he has done. I well understand his desire to return to his home state and wish him well at the University of Texas."
Most within the ASU athletic department were caught off guard by Patterson’s departure. After Patterson’s name initially surfaced, sources said, many began to expect he would return to his alma mater if given the opportunity. But athletic department officials were confidently led to believe Patterson wasn’t going anywhere, one source said.
Athletic department staffers learned of Patterson’s candidacy on Monday, a day after he had interviewed with the Texas hiring committee. At that point, a source said, feelings shifted back to the belief Patterson would leave.
Many around the ASU program have become accustomed to athletic directors leaving for higher-profile jobs. Kevin White left ASU for Notre Dame in 2000 and Gene Smith left for Ohio State in 2005.
Patterson’s departure may impact ASU most in its efforts to renovate Sun Devil Stadium. Patterson’s business and fundraising prowess played a key role in his promotion to athletic director, and he had made significant strides toward getting the stadium project funded.
Now, the timeline for the renovations beyond the demolition of upper-level north-end-zone seats this offseason appears in flux.
ASU football coach Todd Graham, who Patterson had a heavy hand in hiring in December 2011, was informed of Patterson’s departure before he met with the media following a Tuesday morning practice but offered no reaction to the news.
"I don’t have (a reaction) at all, really," Graham said. "I’m just getting our team ready to play Utah."
Graham did briefly discuss his relationship with Patterson.
"Obviously I think the world of Steve," Graham said. "He’s a person that was instrumental in bringing me here.
"I’m very grateful to him and Dr. Crow for bringing me here. … All I’ll say on that deal is how much I think of Steve. He’s been a great partner."
Patterson made just one hire officially, tabbing Craig Nicholson to lead ASU’s softball program when Clint Myers departed for the vacant Auburn job.
Patterson’s contract at ASU included a clause that stipulated he had to obtain Crow’s consent to take the job at Texas. Crow told The Arizona Republic he agreed to Patterson’s departure on the condition Patterson not hire anyone from ASU to work for him at Texas.
Crow said Rund will lead the athletic department while ASU conducts a national search for Patterson’s replacement. Rund is currently senior vice president for educational outreach and students services across ASU’s four campuses. He previously served as dean of student development, associate vice president for student affairs and vice president for university undergraduate initiatives.
Rund, who has a doctorate in higher and adult education from ASU, has no previous experience in athletics administration but does serve on the executive committee of the board of directors for the Sun Devil Club, the fundraising arm of ASU athletics.
Longtime Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds announced earlier this year he intended to step down in August 2014, but he will step aside into an advisory capacity once his successor is in place.
Among the issues that figure to be of immediate concertn to Patterson is the future of football coach Mack Brown, who has been under fire for the Longhorns’ recent slippage as a national power.
Dodds and Powers have backed Brown through three consecutive sub-par seasons, and criticism intensified when the Longhorns opened the 2013 season with two losses in their first three games. But they have since won five in a row and moved into first place in the Big 12.