Regents approve renewal of athletics directors’ contracts otiation

Collin Eaton

The UT System Board of Regents gave UT President William Powers Jr. authority to renew and boost the contracts for men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds and women’s athletic director Christine Plonsky on Thursday.

Dodds has led the UT athletics program for the past 30 years from a $4.8 million operation in 1981 to a $136 million operation in 2010-11. He was a key player in building the prestige of the Big 12 Conference since its inception in 1996 and in the next few years will oversee the new Longhorn Network, which could bring in $15 million for UT.

Powers will decide the details of the new contracts in consultation with certain regents, but the new contract will only require approval from Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

“The ball is in UT-Austin’s court right now,” said UT System spokesman Matt Flores.

Dodd’s contract currently pays him $675,000 including potential incentives, and Plonsky makes $325,000, including performance incentives.

Powers will negotiate the terms of Dodds’ and Plonsky’s contracts in consultation with Colleen McHugh, chairman of the board of regents, regent Robert Stillwell, chairman of the board’s academic affairs committee and regent Steven Hicks, the board’s athletic liaison. President Powers made recommendations during the board’s executive session, Hicks said.

Under Dodds, the Longhorns have earned 23 NCAA bowl berths, athletics programs have brought back 23 national championships and about 100 Big 12 and Southwestern Conference titles. The athletics department also brought in $6 million that went to UT’s academic core budget. Dodds has promoted the up-and-coming Longhorn television network for years.

The Texas Exes alumni association honored Dodds in October with the Distinguished Service Award, the most prestigious award the association can give to an individual who did not graduate from UT. Dodds graduated from Kansas State University in 1959. He later served in the U.S. Army as a tank commander before becoming athletics director at Kansas State University. He was hired as UT’s ninth athletic director in 1981.

Wyndam Smith, a 1964 UT alumnus who has attended all but one UT vs. Texas A&M game since 1950, said Dodds’ vision has boosted not only the Longhorn football program but all of UT athletics. Dodds has also overseen an expansion of the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, which now seats more than 100,000 people, and the construction of state-of-the-art training facilities, Smith said.

“He just promotes Texas sports from girls’ softball to the men’s football team; he’s done a heck of a job,” Smith said.