Mac Engel

TCU’s Gary Patterson reacts and explains Del Conte connection

TCU football coach Gary Patterson (left) and former TCU AD Chris Del Conte at an appearance for the Peach Bowl. Del Conte announced his decision to leave for Texas, which he will formally accept on Monday.
TCU football coach Gary Patterson (left) and former TCU AD Chris Del Conte at an appearance for the Peach Bowl. Del Conte announced his decision to leave for Texas, which he will formally accept on Monday.

Gary Patterson understands why his boss is leaving, but the TCU football coach wanted to clear up one thing about the departure of his athletic director to the University of Texas.

Longtime NBC 5 sports anchor Newy Scruggs tweeted Sunday that the buyouts for TCU’s football, baseball and men’s basketball coaches became null and void with Chris Del Conte accepting the position at Texas.

Per Patterson, the buyout provision in his contract is voided if either Del Conte or chancellor Victor Boschini leaves the school.

The same provision is in place for baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle and men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon.

“I wanted to make sure people know we weren’t going to be looking for another place if [Del Conte] left,” Patterson said in a phone interview Sunday afternoon. “One of the reasons we felt like we were successful was because of Chris and the chancellor. We were one team. We just wanted to be sure that people knew everyone was doing the right thing on this.”

According to multiple sources late Sunday, TCU will announce Jeremiah Donati as its next athletic director at 2 p.m. Monday. Donati has been TCU’s deputy athletic director under Del Conte since August 2016 and has served as associate vice chancellor and associate athletics director for development since 2013.

Per a TCU source, the buyout provisions in the three contracts are not so prohibitive that TCU does not feel another school would be deterred from paying if it was so inclined.

Such provisions are fairly typical in college athletics; should a boss leave, and the coach likes them, the coach wants some measure of freedom to potentially make leaving easier, even if they don’t plan to ever exercise that right.

The fear is that with Del Conte going to Austin, should those respective teams struggle at UT, he might try to hire one of these three men away from TCU.

Patterson has never been approached by Texas, but Schlossnagle has. The Horned Frogs, specifically under Del Conte, routinely cut off pursuers by sweetening the contracts of their coaches.

Saying no to Texas, and a boss they like and have a positive history with, could be difficult.

“Bottom line is we haven’t left,” Patterson said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past, and the buyout wasn’t big enough to where another [school] couldn’t buy it out. We love it here.”

Patterson was pragmatic about Del Conte’s decision to leave and grateful to the man who gave him so much room to do his job.

Del Conte was the third athletic director Patterson has worked for at TCU: Eric Hyman, Danny Morrison and Del Conte. Patterson had good relationships with all three.

“No. 1, we are really good friends. We were able to do this together and it’s been a great ride,” Patterson said. “It’s like if anyone else leaves: You get going and go to the next level. He did a great job of taking care of myself and my family. I know he did for the rest of the coaches, too. But he felt like he needed a new challenge and you have to wish him well.”

Horned Frogs athletic director says both sports helped TCU prosper when it was left out of bigger conferences.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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