Perrin loses “interim” title, receives two-year contract extension

Jori Epstein

University President Gregory Fenves extended Mike Perrin’s contract as the men’s athletic director through 2017–18 on Thursday.

Perrin had filled the position on an interim basis since Sept. 16, one day after Steve Patterson resigned. In the interim role, he supervised men’s sports, helped close a 15-year, $250 million Nike deal and assured football season-ticket holders that prices won’t rise in the next two years.

Perrin was hired on a $750,000, one-year contract. Fenves’ office told ESPN that Perrin’s salary won’t change in the two-year extension. Instead, he’ll be an “at-will employee” without a formal contract.

Fenves said he’s confident Perrin will continue bringing “positive change and pride” to the athletics department.

“Since Mike became interim AD, he has proved to be a resourceful and valuable asset,” Fenves said. “His experiences as a student-athlete and a successful lawyer and businessman have given him unique insight that complements his strong leadership.” 

Perrin lettered as a linebacker under legendary Texas coach Darrell K Royal from 1966 to 1968. He received his bachelor’s in math and a J.D. at the University. He then practiced law in Houston until September, focusing on personal injury litigation.

Women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky said Perrin’s legal background has helped him navigate the athletic department landscape.

“He’s such a quick study on this stuff,” Plonsky said. “I just keep thinking of all this stuff he’s been sitting through, from Nike negotiations to audits, just trying to understand how this sponsorship stuff happens. It’s not uncomplicated, and he picks it up like there’s no tomorrow.”

Perrin assumes the position at a changing time for the athletics department. Many anticipate he will help football coach Charlie Strong rebuild his staff — but responsibilities stretch further.

The department will knock down the school’s Press and Printing buildings this month to clear space for a new tennis center, due to open in fall 2016. It expects to relocate basketball facilities for the medical school and formalize a sports science Center for Student-Athlete Wellness and High Performance. Plonsky said leadership even has master plans for a South End Zone project at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium — but timelines are fluid.

“When it’ll be a reality, we don’t know,” Plonsky said. “You never stop around here.”

But athletics does know one more thing now — regardless of each project’s deadline, the department expects Perrin to be at the helm overseeing the next two-and-a-half years.

Perrin said that prospect excites him — and apparently the Longhorn fan base, too. He said he’s “humbled and overwhelmed” by the support he’s received.

Losing that support base was Patterson’s biggest issue in his exit. Patterson’s initial contract ran through 2019, but he left after 22 months when rising ticket prices, rocky relations with donors and a business-first mindset upset fans.

University officials and constituents have spoken positively about Perrin’s relationships with fans and donors. Plonsky said he’s “so enjoyable” to be around — a quality the department needs.

“Mike Perrin was a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant decision by President Fenves,” Plonsky said. “He’s bright off the charts, he’s calm, he’s Texas, his wife is Texas. And again, just so respected. A man of integrity.”

—Additional reporting by Akshay Mirchandani