SBD/April 2, 2014/Colleges

Texas' Patterson Talks Athlete Unionization, Playing Abroad To Expand Brand

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Patterson says it is unfair to make football foot the bill for every other sports
Texas men's AD Steve Patterson sees the school "as being in a unique position to grow its international brand," and said that it is "essential to use athletics as a platform to tell the university's story," according to Max Olson of ESPN.com. Patterson said int'l events "shouldn't be done for junketeering purposes." Patterson: "They should be done in a fashion that grows the profile and the interest of the university of a broad scale internationally." On top of a possible Mexico City football game, Patterson yesterday acknowledged that another possibility "could be a future sporting event in Dubai." He added, "We have a lot of folks in the oil and gas industry. A lot of those alums spend time in the Middle East, and Dubai is a place that wants to use sports to help put itself on the map. So we'll have some conversations, and we'll see where they lead." Meanwhile, Patterson yesterday said that he is "not looking to schedule a nonconference football matchup against Texas A&M, at least not in the short term." He added, "At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don't know. It's not at the top of my list" (ESPN.com, 4/1).

STUDENTS ONLY: In Austin, Brian Davis notes Patterson yesterday "left no doubt where he stands on the controversial issue of college athletes forming a union." Patterson believes that the school "is a place for amateurism, although he’s for increasing the stipend given to athletes to cover the full cost of tuition." Patterson: "If you’re a football player coming out of high school that decides you want to go to the pros, go take up your issue with Roger Goodell, the owners and the union. That’s your place to go, if you want to go play professional football, if you want to go be an employee. If you want to go play professional basketball, go the D-league, knock yourself out." Patterson said that he would "like to grow the athletic department’s endowment so that every sport has its own revenue base, much like the Stanford model." Patterson said that it is "unfair to make one sport -- in Texas’ case, football -- foot the bill for every other program." Meanwhile, Patterson said that it is "way too early in the process to speculate" on where a new basketball arena "might be located." He said that the school "will continue to play in the Erwin Center for the next 'five, six, eight' years" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 4/2).

NCAA REFORMS: Patterson acknowledged that some change to the NCAA's form of governance "is likely." He added that he "doesn't think another round of conference realignment is on the horizon but said the five major conferences -- the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC and SEC -- soon might be able to work under their own set of rules." Meanwhile, in Houston, Mike Finger notes UT is "studying the idea of adding more premium football seating and finishing the south end zone at Royal-Memorial Stadium" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/2).
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