AUSTIN For the first time in 32 years, the University of Texas has a new athletic director.

'It's nice to be home,' said Steve Patterson, his voice catching just a bit. 'It's really great to be home.'

Patterson was formally introduced at a press conference Thursday in Austin. He'll take over for the departing DeLoss Dodds, who helped make the Texas athletic department the richest in college sports.

Despite the huge budget, the men's athletic programs are worse off now than they have been in years.

'I don't see this as I have other places ... taking over organizations that needed a dramatic turnaround,' Patterson said. 'I don't anticipate monstrous changes in the department.'

With the new director, the question in the minds of many is whether there will be a new football coach. Despite a 5-0 record in the Big 12, there is speculation that this will be Mack Brown's last year at Texas.

'What I've found whenever I've taken over an existing organization is the world often looks very different inside than it does outside,' Patterson said. 'And I think we've got some very talented folks who have been working here for a long time and I look forward to sitting down and working with them.'

Patterson graduated from the UT in 1980 as an undergrad and 1984 as a law student, making this job a homecoming for him and his family. Patterson showed some emotion when talking about his family, especially his son who is named Austin although Patterson joked that he tried to talk his wife into naming him Bevo.

His background is impressive, but not extensive in the college ranks. He spent only three years at Arizona State and less than two as the school's athletic director. Among his prior jobs, Patterson worked as the Houston Rockets general manager from 1989 to 1993. He helped build the team that would win back-to-back NBA titles in 1994-1995. He also worked with the Houston Texans as the franchise was born and played an active role in the planning and construction of Reliant Stadium.

Patterson said he has a handshake agreement with Texas president Bill Powers. There's no contract yet. The University Board of Regents still has to approve the hire, which they are expected to do in the next week.


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