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Regents Clear Fenves to Cut Patterson Exit Deal

Steve Patterson's troubled tenure as athletics director at the University of Texas at Austin is all but over after the UT System regents gave UT-Austin President Greg Fenves approval to cut a deal to send him on his way.

Members listen to committee reports at the Board of Regents meeting for The University of Texas System on Feb. 14, 2013.

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Steve Patterson's troubled tenure as athletics director at the University of Texas at Austin officially ended on Thursday after the UT System Board of Regents, meeting in special session, gave UT-Austin President Greg Fenves approval to finalize an exit agreement.

The regents voted unanimously to let Fenves close the deal with Patterson, but no details were released on the terms or payout under discussion.  Whatever Patterson is ultimately paid, the money is supposed to come from UT’s athletic revenues, not state-appropriated funds or tuition.

Fenves said he hopes to finish negotiations “expeditiously” but did not give a specific timeline.

Patterson's exit was announced last week. Fenves called it a mutual decision, though sources have indicated that Patterson was pushed out. Patterson and school officials began negotiating an exit agreement on the day of the breakup, but haven't disclosed how much Patterson will receive.

Patterson will depart less than two years into a contract running through August 2019 under which he earned $1.4 million a year, plus raises, a car allowance and other perks. Paid everything his contract promised, he'd receive more than $5 million, but the final agreement is expected to be less than that.

Signing such exit agreements is nothing new for the Longhorns; the athletics department recently paid off former football coach Mack Brown ($2.75 million) and former basketball coach Rick Barnes ($1.75 million).

Fenves has declined to comment on the exit agreement until it is formally approved. Patterson, who had a strained relationship with fans and donors after raising football ticket prices and making other major changes, hasn't agreed to any interviews since his departure was announced.

UT System officials also discussed rules for school officials' outside employment at their meeting. They approved UT’s use of law firm Jackson Walker L.L.P. for outside legal services.

At a previous regents meeting, Regent Wallace Hall raised questions about former UT-Austin President Bill Powers' part-time job with Jackson Walker. Powers took the job soon after stepping down as president, but will continue to teach for the UT-Austin law school.

Hall, a frequent adversary of Powers, expressed concern that UT-Austin and the UT System used Jackson Walker for legal work while Powers was president. UT System officials defended the arrangement, saying that Powers had nothing to do with hiring Jackson Walker and had been completely transparent about his new job.

"Bill Powers did not play any role whatsoever in our decision to engage this firm, or our continual engagement with this firm," UT System General Counsel Daniel Sharphorn said at the meeting.

The firm has contracts to perform up to $60,000 worth of legal work related to intellectual property and utility law for UT-Austin in the next two years, according to documents compiled by the system for Thursday's meeting. It has numerous other deals in the works for jobs at other schools or offices in the system, too.

The board of regents also planned to discuss tuition policies at the meeting, but system Chancellor William H. McRaven said his team is still gathering information on the issue and will have a presentation for a later time.  The next scheduled meeting is set for Nov. 4 and 5.

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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