In early 2013, University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall, while on a call with Jimmy Sexton, the agent for University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, said University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers would be gone by the end of the year.
Hall has been accused by lawmakers of being on a "witch hunt" to oust Powers, and the regent is currently being investigated by a legislative committee with the power to recommend articles of impeachment against him. Some believe he has abused his authority in his efforts to find information about the university's operations. Through his lawyers, Hall has argued that he has uncovered issues that warrant investigation.
If the committee were to recommend impeachment, Hall could be the first nonelected government official to be impeached — and possibly removed — in the state's history.
Tom Hicks, a former regent, was on the call with Hall and Sexton. In September, he wrote a memo to his brother, Steve Hicks, a current UT regent, detailing the conversation.
In the email obtained by the Tribune, the former regent wrote: "Wallace told Sexton that UT leadership was most likely going to change during the year, and maybe the timing would be better a year or two later. Specifically, he made the statement the [sic] Bill Powers wouldn't be here at the end of the year."
The statement was first reported by the Houston Chronicle.
Neither Hall nor Steve Hicks immediately responded to requests for comment. A UT-Austin spokesman declined to comment.
Tom Hicks also noted in his memo that Hall had indicated that "several regents were in the loop" about discussions regarding potentially replacing UT-Austin football coach Mack Brown. None of the regents informed Powers that those discussions were occurring, even though personnel decisions within the university's athletic department are under his purview.
In a statement in September, UT System general counsel Dan Sharphorn acknowledged that Powers should have been notified. “However, the conversation was very preliminary and short-lived,” he said.
Brown told Tom Hicks that he had no intention of leaving, and the matter was dropped.
Meanwhile, tension between the board of regents and the administration of the system's flagship university — as well as between the system and the Legislature — have been mounting.
Here is the memo from Hicks detailing the call:
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- Memo from Tom Hicks (36.8 KB) DOWNLOAD