The University of Texas at Austin announced it will hire Steve Patterson, UT Law alumnus (’84), as the new men’s athletic director, replacing DeLoss Dodds who is retiring after 32 years. The other finalist for the job, Oliver Luck of West Virginia University, is also a UT Law alumnus.
Patterson, 55, who also has his bachelor’s degree from UT Austin, has served as athletic director at Arizona State University since 2012. Previously, he worked for more than two decades as an executive with the NFL’s Houston Texans, the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers, and the Houston Aeros hockey team. He has also served as president of Pro Sports Consulting.
“Steve Patterson emerged as the perfect candidate to build on Texas’ athletic success and DeLoss Dodds’ legacy,” said UT Austin President and former UT Law Dean Bill Powers. “Steve helped build an NBA championship team and brought the Super Bowl game to Houston. Far more important, he’s run a winning program at Arizona State that places students first and is committed to their lifelong success.”
UT Law Alumnus Lawrence Payne, ’76, an executive vice president of the San Antonio Spurs, knew Patterson during his time with the NBA.
“I think they’ve got a really well rounded guy that’s been in a lot of different situations and succeeded at each of them,” Payne said in reaction to the news of UT Austin hiring Patterson. “He’s even operated a minor league franchise which presents a whole set of challenges that could be very intuitive in dealing with sports that aren’t as high profile at Texas. He’s got a great pedigree, I really think he’ll do well.”
Known for his no-nonsense approach to change, Patterson has been at the forefront of many significant capital projects at ASU, including the renovation of the football stadium and leading negotiations for a new site for baseball and the creation of a 425-acre Sports Facilities District adjacent to the university in downtown Tempe.
Patterson’s interest in sports was apparent during his time at UT Law. He was active in the Art and Entertainment Law Committee, but may be most well known for his service as the campaign manager for Hank T. Hallucination. Hank was a cartoon character who ran for UT’s Student Association President in 1982 and beat national political personality and UT undergrad at the time Paul Begala (UT Law, ’90). Begala was later declared the victor given the fact that “Hank” was not a student.
“Under Steve’s leadership, Hank’s campaign was visionary,” said Begala, who also went to high school with Patterson in Sugar Land. “He found the vulnerabilities in his opponents, and exploited them. He identified the strengths in his own team and maximized them. If he does the same for UT athletics, we’re going to have to buy a lot of burnt orange light bulbs for the Tower.”
Patterson’s appointment is subject to approval from the UT System Board of Regents, which is scheduled to meet Nov. 12 and 13. Patterson would begin at the university later this fall. Powers plans to formally introduce Patterson at a news conference on campus this week.