SBD/May 18, 2012/Colleges

SMU Dismisses AD Steve Orsini Just Four Weeks After Hiring Of Larry Brown

Orsini was named AD in '06 and has signed a contract extension that ran through May '15
SMU yesterday announced AD Steve Orsini has been dismissed, effective immediately. Senior Associate AD/External Affairs Tim Leonard was named interim AD (SMU). In Dallas, Kate Hairopoulos cited sources saying that there was "a growing clash between" Orsini and SMU President R. Gerald Turner. SMU "will begin an immediate search for a new AD." SMU is set to join the Big East in '13 and the school "will need to be represented at league meetings in Florida next week." Orsini signed a contract extension in Jan '11 that ran through May '15. Sources said that new SMU men's basketball coach Larry Brown "was not Orsini's first choice." The "major fall out came amid Turner losing trust in Orsini and his sometimes aggressive style that upset different parties across" the university. Hairopolis noted Orsini's legacy will be "looked at largely as leading a transformational time" at SMU (, 5/17). The AP noted Orsini had been SMU AD since '06 and was terminated "just four weeks after" SMU hired Brown (AP, 5/17). A source said that Turner fired Orsini "during a previously scheduled meeting Orsini had believed was intended to discuss admissions requirements" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/18).

GROUNDS FOR DISMISSAL: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote, "SMU may rank ahead of TCU in academic standings, but the Ponies' inability to match what their cross-town rival has done in athletics likely helped get an AD fired." Engel: "Even though SMU has a new football stadium, a winning football team with a head coach who clearly knows what he is doing, it has not translated into the type of off-the-field success the school obviously wants after sinking so much money into the public relations tool that is college athletics" (, 5/17). In Dallas, Kevin Sherrington wrote,"Now the future of the far-flung Big East appears in jeopardy, to say the least" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 5/18). Also in Dallas, Chuck Carlton writes under the header, "Highs And Lows Of Steve Orsini's Tenure As SMU Athletic Director" (, 5/17).

DEAL STAYS PUT: Legends Sales & Marketing’s deal to sell season tickets for SMU football and men’s and women’s basketball remains intact, confirmed Legends President Chad Estis. Legends, co-owned by the Cowboys and Yankees, recently signed a three-year contract with the school to outsource ticket sales. Leonard drove the move to outsource in part due to sagging attendance for the schools’ revenue producing sports (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal).

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