Texas tabs advisory committee for AD search

Erich Schlegel

The search for the next Texas athletics director is now set to begin in earnest.

The seven-member advisory committee for Texas president Bill Powers is now in place as the Longhorns search for a new athletic director for replace DeLoss Dodds, who announced his intentions to retire in late August of 2014.

The committee members are:

  • Steve Hicks, vice chair of the Board of Regents, one of the board's athletics liaisons, and owner and executive chairman of Capstar Partners LLC, a private investment firm.
  • Robert Stillwell, member of the Board of Regents, one of the board's athletics liaisons, retired partner at Baker Botts LLP and an original director of Mesa Petroleum Co.
  • Michael Clement, accounting professor, McCombs School of Business at UT Austin, and faculty representative to the Men's and Women's Athletics Councils.
  • Charles Matthews, former vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil, current president of the Texas Exes.
  • Robert Rowling, former member of the Board of Regents and owner and chairman of TRT Holdings Inc.
  • Charles Tate, chairman of Capital Royalty, former member of the executive committee of the university's Commission of 125.
  • Pamela Willeford, former U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein and former chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Powers also issued the following statement as part of the university's release.

"The committee members all have deep ties to UT Austin and the athletics program, as well as decades of experience in business, government, higher education and philanthropy," said Powers. "Their guidance will be invaluable as I work over the next few weeks to find a new athletics director who will build on our program's success."

Rowling is a big-time donor to the Texas athletics department and another adversary of governor Rick Perry who resigned from the Texas Board of Regents instead of breaking contracts with an investment staff regarding bonuses. He then backed Texas Ex Kay Bailey Hutchinson for governor against Perry in 2010. The AP's Jim Vertuno notes that Rowling has contributed to the construction of the practice facilities for basketball and football, both of which will need replacement in the near future as a result of the new medical school. He also made a $25 million donation to the business school this spring, which wasn't that big of a deal since his net worth was estimated to be $4.8 billion in 2012.

Not a bad idea to keep the 14th-richest man in Texas close right now, no?

Tate is a business partner of Hicks' brother Tom, who threw himself into the middle of the Nick Saban-Texas incident by going to Mack Brown to ask him about his willingness to resign after Steve Hicks was part of the group that contacted Saban's agent, Jimmy Sexton. Interestingly enough, Tate has been a significant donor to Perry in the past, though he was also part of the group with Joe Jamail that launched an anti-Perry website after the governors attacks on Powers.

Vertuno describes the relevant aspects of the inclusion of Matthews on this board:

Matthews is also a member of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group that has been a vocal ally of Powers in the president's power struggles the last two years with Gov. Rick Perry and some members of the board of regents.

As the current president of the Texas Exes, Matthews will presumably represent the interests of alumni, a group Powers indicated he would consult with during the process.

A fun fact about Willeford? She was the only person present when then-Vice President Dick Chaney shot his longtime friend Harry Whittington with birdshot while hunting in 2006. Besides graduating from the University of Texas, she cemented her Texan bona fides by marrying a man called Boots.

Additionally, Texas announced last week that it will be employing the services of search firm Korn/Ferry International at a cost of $200,000. It is the world's largest executive search firm and the point man from Korn/Ferry is Jed Hughes, a former defensive coach in college and the NFL who moved into the corporate world and has specialized in "identifying, selecting, and developing leaders" during that phase of his career.

No clear-cut candidates for the job have emerged at this time, but there has been plenty of speculation from people connected to the West Virginia program and those connected with the Texas program that current Mountaineer athletic director Oliver Luck, who has a law degree from Texas and deep connections to the state, is the frontrunner for the open position.

With the advisory committee and the search firm now in place, names should begin to surface in earnest in connection with the position.

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