Arizona State athletic director Steve Patterson is headed to the University of Texas and, with the move, he joins other former ADs from the school who have left Tempe for greener pastures.
Kevin White, who was at ASU in the 1990s, of course left for Notre Dame in 2000 and now holds a similar position at Duke. And White’s replacement, Gene Smith, left the university in 2005 for Ohio State, where he currently presides as the Buckeyes’ AD.
Now, with Patterson headed to Austin, it’s worth noting that three of the last four ASU ADs have left for some of the top athletic programs in the country. And that’s a great sign, according to Sun Devils’ football analyst Jeff Van Raaphorst.
“I don’t think that’s really a bad thing,” the former Sun Devil quarterback told Doug and Wolf on Wednesday.
“If you’re going to take someone from the university and recognize them as being very very good,” he went on, “that means that they have produced while they’re here.”
Patterson, a Texas alum, was hired by ASU in March of 2012 and previously held executive roles with the Portland Trailblazers, Houston Rockets and Houston Texans. At Texas, he’ll be responsible for the largest college athletics budget in the nation.
Like Van Raaphorst, ASU president Michael Crow doesn’t see Patterson’s departure as a negative, per se.
“ASU will be attractive to a wide range of candidates across the country,” Crow said in a statement released Tuesday.
“(Steve Patterson) has positioned Sun Devil Athletics to continue its forward momentum well into the future. He first became involved with ASU three years ago to put the university’s athletic department on a sound financial footing and that is exactly what he has done. I well understand his desire to return to his home state and wish him well at the University of Texas.”
Van Raaphorst echoed Crow’s sentiment, pointing out that Patterson wasn’t jumping from a sinking ship, but his hiring by the Longhorns proves just the opposite.
“You’re losing guys to, let’s call it, the top five jobs in the country,” he said Wednesday. “That means that your ADs when they’re here are recognized as being top five candidates. In some regards, I’m fine with that because I think you want to lose people that are running to something clearly better rather than running from something that they’re facing here.”
Citing intrigue in the future of ASU athletics, the analyst said the school is ultimately in good shape to progress from the loss of another promising AD such as Patterson.
“I think it will be interesting to see what they do,” Van Raaphorst said.
“There’s two issues brewing at once. One is a finance construction project that is clearly the cornerstone of the next decade for ASU. The other part is keeping the wheels on in the athletic administration side and I think ASU, with the people that they have, is very well positioned to weather that storm in the interim.”