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Texas Longhorns athletic department returns to profitability through record-setting revenue

Steve Patterson managed to do at least one thing right.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Maligned former Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson helped the Texas Longhorns athletic department achieve record-setting revenue during the 2014-15 academic year and once again turn a profit, according to an audit obtained by several newspaper publications.

However, the margin was still a narrow one -- despite producing the second-highest total ever for any athletic department anywhere by pulling in approximately $183.5 million in revenue, the school spent $183 million a year after finishing 2013-14 almost $3 million in the red, in part due to the large expenditures of coaching buyouts.

Similar buyouts for former men's head basketball coach Rick Barnes, his replacement Shaka Smart, and that of Patterson himself played a role in the small margin this year. Barnes reportedly received a buyout of $1.75 million as the result of a contract extension he signed months before, VCU received $500,000 to let Smart out of his contract, and Patterson up to $2.8 million, depending on his future employment.

However, since the buyouts for Barnes, Patterson, and former head football coach Mack Brown were not lump-sum payments, Texas didn't take a huge financial hit all at once, but will have the remainder of those buyouts on the books for nearly two more years.

Largesse to the university further reduced the profit margin, as the athletic department gave $9.8 million to the school for the second straight year.

On the revenue-producing side, all three men's sports helped add to the coffers, with football bringing in a profit of $94.5 million, basketball making $6.4 million, and baseball making $1.6m million. Other sports imposed a significant financial burden on the university:

The news of Patterson's success in achieving a profitable athletic department again comes amid a wave of departures by staffers and consultants he hired.

The communications chief that Patterson hired, Kevin Mortesen, resigned almost two weeks ago after a spending only four months on the job. Patterson hired the former vice president of communications for a company that owns iHOP and Applebee's after firing football SID John Bianco. But the unpopular termination of Bianco helped contribute to Patterson's own departure and new athletic director Mike Perrin eventually re-hired Bianco.

Joining Mortesen in leaving Texas are Steve Hank, Patterson's chief revenue officer, and Felicia Israel, the consultant who worked to alter the game-day environment at football and basketball games. Hank's notable deeds at Texas included working with Nike on the massive shoe and apparel deal, pressuring Sodexo to increase food offerings at Darrel K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, negotiating a new radio deal, and raising the average football ticket prices.

The university brought Patterson in as an agent of change who could make tough calls on coaches and streamline a bloated athletic department. His own personal failings and achieving unpopular parts of his intended mission got him fired early and now the underlings of change are out the door, too.

But Patterson also ultimately helped achieve one of his major end goals -- making the nation's highest-revenue athletic department profitable again.