Ending Football

A chronology

Mack Brown
Mack Brown (Photo courtesy of UT)

Jan. 8: The day after the Longhorns lose the BCS title game to Alabama 37-21, UT Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty announces confidentially to senior administration that a decision has been made to shut down the athletics program – including the Longhorn football program – due to an ever-expanding debt burden.

Jan. 9: UT President Bill Powers, not realizing Hegarty is speaking seriously, replies, "What's the vig on that debt, and can't we just put the PUF [permanent university fund] on the ponies?"

Jan. 10: The effort to curtail any potential press backlash begins. Nick Voinis, senior associate athletics director for communications, writes, "There will likely be critical comments from the local media, the most severe probably from the sports desk at the Austin American-Statesman and The Herd with Colin Cowherd at ESPN Austin."

March 24: Powers suggests proposing to coach Mack Brown (above) that the Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium be made available to other sporting teams, such as the Austin Aztex, during the off-season. Juan González, vice president for student affairs, retorts: "You really expect him to share his field with another sports team? You are such a dreamer."

March 25: Discussions break down over cost-saving measures, including no longer housing UT football players at hotels the night before a home game. Stadium suites operations manager Jim Baker writes: "Isn't there a halfway point? Can't we put the teams up at La Quinta instead of the Four Seasons?"

March 26: After a brief flurry of e-mails between Voinis and UT vice president of public affairs Don Hale, the decision is made to issue the press release only to Bryan/College Sta­tion's The Eagle and Austin-American States­man food critic Addie Broyles.

March 31, late afternoon: Decision leaks from unidentified source at Bellmont Hall. Shortly thereafter, under the headline "Guess who's not going to Disneyland?," a press release is issued to a selected list of media outlets.

*Oops! The following correction ran in the April 9, 2010 issue: Due to editorial confusion, we mistakenly reported last week that the University of Texas was ending its football program (and all athletics programs), that the city of Austin would henceforth subsidize UT football, that several UT football players were transferring to other universities, and that Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium would be repurposed for academic functions and additional parking. We have since learned that we were mistaken. We apologize for any inconvenience and promise to never, ever, ever, make similar mistakes again – at least until April 1, 2011.

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