SBD/March 29, 2012/Colleges

Arizona State Hires Sun Devils Exec Steve Patterson As AD, Replacing Lisa Love

Patterson spent nearly 25 years as an exec with the Texans, Rockets and Trail Blazers
Arizona State Univ. yesterday announced that Sun Devil Athletics COO and Sun Devil Sports Group Managing Dir Steve Patterson has been named ASU AD & VP/University Athletics. He will consolidate his duties at Sun Devil Sports Group into his new role. Patterson replaces Lisa Love (ASU). In Phoenix, Doug Haller noted the school in a statement said Love is leaving ASU "to pursue other career opportunities," but sources said that Love "has been fired." ASU President Michael Crow reportedly met with Love yesterday "and at some point relieved her of her duties" (AZCENTRAL.com, 3/28). Haller notes Love's dismissal “simply is the latest step in what has become an overhaul of ASU's athletic department, most of the change stemming from the program's top revenue-producing sports.” Patterson's promotion “saves ASU from an extended search and a transition of uncertainty, but it doesn't come without questions.” Prior to his arrival at the school, Patterson “did not have much experience at the college level.” He spent “nearly 25 years as an executive” with the Texans, Rockets and Trail Blazers (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29).

TOUGH LOVE: Patterson said, “I don’t accept that we can’t compete. I’ll never accept that.” In Phoenix, Paola Boivin writes, “Good for him. Of course, it sounds an awful lot like what Love said upon her hire seven years ago.” The fan frustration during Love’s tenure “is understandable, but the venom directed her way is absurd.” She tried to run an athletic program “during a time when the state’s economic crisis resulted in a 47 percent budget cut in funding from 2009.” Boivin notes Love had “raised more money than any of her predecessors, but it was her big hires that eventually cost her. “Her biggest “downfall came in the area of communication” as Love “had a difficult time connecting with the fan base.” Crow said, “To make this program work, we need to earn a $100 million a year. We’re not earning a 100 million a year … we’re not at that level yet.” Boivin writes it “didn’t help Love’s cause that the University of Arizona has made strong inroads in the Valley recently, particularly from a marketing standpoint.” The Univ. of Arizona has “a savvy athletic director in Greg Byrne who is good at connecting with fans and embraces the opportunities social media has to offer” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29). Also in Phoenix, Dan Bickley wrote Crow “finally admitted the mistake that was Lisa Love.” Either way, “this is a good day for ASU,” because Patterson “is smooth, stylish and personable.” Bickley: “And don't think for a moment that Greg Byrne's performance in Tucson didn't raise the stakes for everyone, showing Crow what a dynamic athletic director can accomplish with the two revenue-producing sports” (AZCENTRAL.com, 3/28). An ARIZONA REPUBLIC editorial states Love “was an indifferent fundraiser.” Her outreach to “potential supporters, especially alumni, was never effective, even considering that financial support for ASU's sports programs has been a tough sell since the days of [former football coach] Darryl Rogers” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29). In Phoenix, Jeff Metcalfe writes Love leaves Arizona State “with the third-longest tenure as athletic director in the past four decades” (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 3/29).
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