The University of Texas fired Athletic Director Steve Patterson on Tuesday morning, sending waves across the college football landscape. It's not that the firing of Patterson was wholly unexpected (he'd been mismanaging things pretty much from the beginning), rather it serves as a reminder that good Athletic Directors are hard to come by, even for the wealthiest athletic departments in the country.
While Patterson was cutting coaches meals, putting the onus on the residents of Austin to pay for UT facilities, and generally completely misinterpreting the duties of an Athletic Director, TCU fans have witnessed Chris Del Conte reach peak levels of awesome.
Chris Del Conte whipped up $164 million in donations to renovate Amon G. Carter Stadium in 2011, a move that allowed TCU to operate without taking out a loan to begin construction. More recently, he raised over $45 million for renovations to the Daniel Meyer Coliseum (now the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Basketball Complex), again so TCU could remain debt-free in that endeavor. He's ensured that the magnificent coaching duo of Gary Patterson and Jim Schlossnagle have been well taken care of, and he brought in a guy in Trent Johnson who just might turn this basketball program around.
He's personable, well-dressed, and intelligent. He understands that handshakes with the "common" fan mean as much as handshakes with $15 million donors. He's committed to the family feel of TCU Athletics, and, maybe most importantly, his contract extension talks with Gary Patterson never last more than a few minutes. He's negotiated TCU into a BCS conference when TCU alum and Pitt head basketball coach Jamie Dixon reached out to him back in 2011. Then, when that ship sank, he kicked down DeLoss Dodd's door and negotiated TCU into the Big 12.
He's been everything TCU fans could have hoped for when he left his post at Rice in 2009 to join the Frog family.
Interim Athletic Director Mike Perrin, a former Texas linebacker and UT Men's Hall of Honor member, will take over duties on a temporary basis while Texas searches for a permanent replacement for Patterson. Several names have started circulating already, including former Texas head football coach Mack Brown, Arizona Athletic Director Greg Byrne, and, of course, Del Conte. While I doubt he leaves for the pasture down I-35, things are never certain in this business. As one national writer pointed out though, CDC has it pretty good in Fort Worth.
Chris Del Conte would be tremendous at Texas but to be honest he might have a better job. He gets paid well and TCU has 10% of the Texas BS— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) September 15, 2015
Rumors will undoubtedly run rampant over the next few days and weeks as things get sorted out down in Austin, but one thing is for certain: as long as CDC is wearing purple, Frog fans can be thankful for an AD that gets it.