DeLoss Dodds -- the face of Texas athletics for the better part of three decades (and the owner of a name that requires the ownership of a sedan with giant longhorns affixed to the grill) -- is stepping away from his post as Texas' Athletics Director. Steve Patterson, the former Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director at Arizona State, will inherit Dodds' position in Austin, guiding one of the largest athletic departments in the nation, an office that notably fails to sponsor men's Division I lacrosse despite the growth of the game in the state. That fact, however, may change in the totally ambiguous future.
As reported at OrangeBloods.com, Patterson is entering a situation where he may trim some fat at Texas -- something he accomplished at Arizona State -- and the residue could be the once-unthinkable: A Longhorns varsity lacrosse program:
Patterson helped trim nearly 100 people from the Arizona State athletic department as a consultant and then as AD. When Patterson took over Portland in the NBA as president and GM in 2003, when they were known as the Jail Blazers, he cleaned out more than 80 from the front office.
The fact no one from the Texas athletic department - no current coaches or staff - were consulted in the hiring of Patterson sent a strong message that big changes would be coming.
I was told with enough employee cuts, Texas could add a lacrosse program, which is on the to-do list.
(Via: The Growth Blog.)
None of this is concrete and Texas is not likely on the immediate verge of adding a lacrosse program to its sponsorship roll (in fact, the OrangeBloods.com report doesn't even mention whether Texas would add a men's or women's (or both) program if Patterson is able to achieve a level of fiscal responsibility that would permit such an addition (or additions)). However, there is something important about the note: Lacrosse remains on the agenda of Texas athletics. Division I lacrosse needs gigantic athletic departments at the elite level of college athletics to start sponsoring the game if the sport hopes to continue its strong growth trajectory; even more importantly, Division I lacrosse needs a market dominator to adopt the game to create an entrenched status among the NCAA's myriad of athletic options.
Texas is a game-changer for Division I lacrosse, a potential tipping point for bringing other high-end athletic departments into the fold. The Longhorns athletic department is a barometer athletic program, and if the Texas pursues lacrosse as a value-added opportunity, many others could follow. The simple existence of lacrosse on Texas' agenda is a good thing, regardless of whether the Longhorns can sponsor lacrosse in the near future.