Roughly two months ago, Greg Fenves asked Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson to change his personal style, one that many inside and outside of the athletic departmnet considered "impersonal or even arrogant."
According to a Monday report from Horns Digest, Patterson hasn't succeeded in those efforts and Fenves is now considering removing Patterson from his position less than two years into his tenure replacing DeLoss Dodds. In fact, ever since meeting twice with Patterson in the middle of July, Patterson has been in trouble, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
A week ago, just as Patterson was touting the economic impact of Texas sports on the city of Austin, Fenves declined to publicly express support for the embattled athletic director, saying only that the two are "continuing to work through the issues," a strong signal that Patterson has not changed his personal style as requested by his new boss.
The handling of the uproar over Texas charging the Texas Tech band $100 for tickets hardly went well -- it took two days for the athletic department to release a statement detailing the changes in policy. And a plane bearing a banner that read "Patterson must go" appeared over Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for Saturday's home opener:
Though it's unclear who paid for the banner, it's a strong vote of no confidence from someone with money to burn.
In the lead up to that Rice game, the school revealed that there 15,000 unsold tickets and the sparse crowd at kickoff provided further evidence of declining fan interest amid rising ticket prices. One fan who declined to renew his season tickets for the first time in more than a decade told the San Antonio Express-News that he "got tired of being treated like a wallet." Even though his season ticket prices increased only marginally, the decision not to renew was one made on principle.
In an opinion piece for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram back in June, Texas communications professor Rick Cherwitz admitted that he didn't renew his season tickets this year for the first time in 36 years:
It was clear to us that the Athletics Department no longer considers faculty and staff to be members of the "family" and "community" — the very people who educate and serve student athletes. Instead, we became another one of the institution's many "corporate customers."
It's not just the season tickets holders or the faculty who don't care for Patterson -- what really concerns Fenves is the poor relationships that Patterson has with many donors, who essentially feel the same way about Patterson as the season ticket holder quoted by the Express-News.
As a result, Patterson's wife has taken a leading role in donor relations, but it's not clear whether that will be enough to repair those relationships. Horns Digest reports that mega-donor Joe Jamail declined to renew his suite this year, though Jamail denied that rumor back in July and did not provide any confirmation or denial for Chip Brown's story.
There's also a lack of communication between Patterson and his coaches, as Charlie Strong, Shaka Smart, and Augie Garrido all reportedly deal with the associate athletic director instead of Patterson. Those coaches have also been cut out of key decision-making like the removal of longtime SID John Bianco and the ongoing negotations with Nike regarding the upcoming shoe/apparel contract.
Throw in further turnover in the athletic department and Patterson's inability to create allies is increasingly leaving him isolated and at odds with Fenvesw, who is quickly tiring of the consistent complaints from all corners.
if Patterson hasn't been able to change his personal style in two months, efforts that seemed unlikely to produce any results at this point in the first place, what are the odds that he's willing or able to do so now?