University of Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson fired

By JIM VERTUNO
AP Sports Writer

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson has been fired after two rocky years on the job, pushed out after clashing with fans and donors upset with his aggressive push to raise money for the nation's wealthiest athletic department, a person with direct knowledge of the decision said Tuesday.

Patterson met with new university President Greg Fenves on Tuesday morning, according to the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been announced. The school did not immediately release details of the meeting or Patterson's departure.

Patterson has overseen two popular hires at Texas -- football coach Charlie Strong and men's basketball coach Shaka Smart, both now in charge of underperforming programs -- but has been unable to win over fans and university donors and has had several meetings with Fenves to soften his approach to business.

Patterson raised football ticket prices after a 6-7 season in 2014, and instituted a "loyalty" program for tickets that rewarded some long-time donors. It also pushed some long-time season ticket-holders out of their seats.

Patterson came to Texas from Arizona State, but most of his career was as an executive in professional sports, notably the NBA, and he struggled to connect with university officials and supporters in the same way as the man he replaced, DeLoss Dodds.

Patterson also refused to engage in a breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by Oklahoma State against Texas offensive line coach Joe Wickline. Texas was not named as a party in the case, which is still on-going, but led to Strong and his staff being subjected to embarrassing depositions to describe who calls plays.

By last weekend's home-opening game against Rice, a plane flew around the stadium with a banner "Patterson Must Go."

Patterson had a guaranteed contract through August 2019 worth at least $1.4 million annually.

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