According to multiple reports this afternoon, the Texas Longhorns have hired former Arizona State University athletic director Steve Patterson as the school’s new athletic director to replace DeLoss Dodds who is officially retiring from his position in the athletic department on August 1, 2014 after 32 years of service.
Patterson has a variety of experience both in collegiate and professional sports, but his basketball experience is the most intriguing to consider given the tepid heat which is rapidly warming under the backside of current Texas coach Rick Barnes given the departure of four key players following the 2012-13 season and the team missing out on post-season play for the first time in his tenure.
The new Texas athletic director worked in the NBA both as a President of Operations and General Manager for the Portland Trailblazers and has well-documented and deep ties throughout the coaching community to this day. It’s rare that there’s a time when a new Athletic Director is brought on board — especially at a program of Texas’ caliber — when that individual doesn’t want to fashion those working for them in their own image, in their own notion of how things should operate.
Steve Patterson arrives at Texas in a time of flux.
The football program has improved rapidly this fall after a rough early-season start, but regardless there’s still a fair amount of uncertainty regarding the future of long-time head coach Mack Brown.
The basketball program limped along in 2012-13, and after a relatively weak recruiting class that will have to play much heavier minutes than expected this coming season, could be in for even rougher waters.
The baseball program missed the post-season for the first time under Augie Garrido in 2012, and is on an extremely short-leash given its storied history.
For years, the basketball program at Texas has taken a backseat to football. There’s a general expectation for the basketball program to make the post-season, but even when this didn’t happen early this year, it wasn’t necessarily seen as an abject failure. This standard could easily change, however, with the arrival of an AD who has a basketball background and is certain to see the sport as more vital to the overall brand value of Texas athletics than his predecessor whose tunnel vision on football was well understood.
Is Rick Barnes’ leash even shorter now with Steve Patterson on the Forty Acres, and his ability to cull through a deep pool of connections and replacements should that necessity present itself?
It certainly appears so.
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer, Business Analyst and College Content Coordinator for Rant Sports.