An Aggie Governor Attacks Longhorn Sports

Posted in: Featured, Politics and People | By: | March 28, 2013

The Texas A&M Aggie graduate governor of Texas is trying to undermine University of Texas athletic programs to gain a political edge.

Read it again. Let it sink in. An Aggie governor is willing to screw with UT sports if it helps him achieve his political goals. He’s probably also getting a few private chuckles out the harm he is causing, too. And it’s pretty easy to prove his intentions.

Just for further political effect, Rick Perry also equated UT’s sports problems with Penn State’s pedophilia crimes.

Seriously.

On Super Bowl weekend, the UT board of regents called an emergency meeting to be conducted telephonically. They were supposedly discussing a four-year-old incident where assistant football coach Major Applewhite had a sexual indiscretion with a female team manager. Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, couldn’t understand why a meeting was necessary until her phone rang. Governor Perry’s chief of staff was calling. A crisis was being manufactured.

Ann Bishop explained the emergency with a very disturbing sentence. “The regents don’t want this to become another Penn State situation.”

Again, seriously.

The chief of staff of the governor of Texas had just compared consensual sex between two adults to rampant pedophilia. She, and the regents, all appointed by Perry, had come upon a clunky plan to smear UT athletics. Bishop never retracted her statement and neither she nor the governor apologized for its ignorance. They were just hoping a solid punch had landed. And UT sports would stagger.

Perry, who is always willing to sacrifice anyone and anything for political advantage, ditched Bishop, but not because of the inflammatory nature of her analysis. He dumped her because she inadvertently let out the governor’s political positioning strategy on UT. She was merely repeating what she’d probably heard in planning sessions. Bishop was new to that type of gutter politics. She had come over from the Employee’s Retirement System to run Perry’s office, and had been given a $160,000 bonus to make the transition. A few weeks after her moment of honesty, she was back in her old job, richer in political insight and money.

The Applewhite story, though, was clearly made public in response to UT’s firing of Bev Kearney, the women’s track coach who had acknowledged a relationship with one of her athletes. Perry and his political cronies were trying to take those two incidents and cleverly position UT athletics as a kind of Caligula of the NCAA.

But why?

This is where sports fans need to get a little political if they want to protect their university’s reputation. Here’s the simple answer to the question: Governor Perry does not like the president of the University of Texas and he is willing to kick around UT athletics to make President William C. Powers look like he doesn’t know how to run a major university. If Perry can make Powers look incompetent, he stands a better chance of getting rid of him. Powers has disagreed with the governor on key matters regarding the funding and operation of UT. And Powers is right, which is embarrassing Perry. Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds reports to the university president, consequently, Perry wants to stick UT sports failings on Powers.

The Powers of President Powers are Challenged

The Powers of President Powers are Challenged

The nasty dispute began over a philosophical difference on how to fund higher education. In 2003, the Aggie joke of a governor convinced the state legislature to deregulate college tuition by arguing that it would make universities compete for students and lower costs. His real reason for deregulation was a desire to cut funding to higher education, which was reduced the same year by 11 percent. In the last legislative session alone, UT was reduced $92 million by the state and began cannibalizing programs to cut corners. Colleges and universities that lost state funding had to make it up somewhere and the result was increased tuition rates. The state abdicated its responsibility to fund higher education under Perry’s leadership and, consequently, institutions were forced to raise tuition to make up for losses. College tuition in Texas is up 55% since Perry led the deregulation charge. (The state presently has a surplus estimated at more than $8 billion and the governor refuses to touch it for either public schools, which he reduced by $5.5 billion, or higher education.)

Even the intellectually numb Perry had come to the realization he had screwed up. But he was looking for a way out and began talking about promoting a $10,000 degree and more online education, a notion pushed by the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation. This, of course, ignores the notion that the state’s constitution calls for the creation of a “university of the first class,” which means research and considerably more than just conferring degrees. But Perry had moved into political butt covering mode. Use a head fake to distract from the real problem. The 10k degree requires many college credit hours at the time of high school graduation, a couple of years in a community college, and then a very narrow choice of four year institutions to finish. The public was underwhelmed.

As was UT president William Powers.

The governor called for a four year freeze on tuition rates, even though he was the revival tent preacher who said absolution came from deregulation and a free market. Powers, though, looked at what was needed at the “university of the first class” and pushed for a tuition hike in the face of Perry’s idea of a Family Dollar store degree. The regents failed to approve a suggested 2.6 percent increase. But the Aggie-grad gov got upset, anyway. He called upon Powers to resign to avoid the embarrassment of being voted out of his job by the board of regents.

Perry has appointed all of the nine current regents but they will have a tough time making a case against Powers. He was recently named to a two-year post as vice-chair and then chairman of the American Association of Universities, the most prestigious higher education group in the country. He has also cut the recent UT budget by $46 million while raising the four-year graduation rate over the past six years from 48 to 52 percent.

Still, Perry won’t quit.

Perry appointees on the board of regents and some members of the legislature want to launch a $500,000 legal investigation into a law school deferred compensation program that was overseen by Powers. The program has already been investigated by the UT System’s vice chancellor and general counsel as well as the state attorney general’s office. Nothing improper was discovered but because Powers is a former dean of the law school and used the program to recruit and retain professors, Perry and his allies want another investigation. Let’s take a guess how many $500,000 investigations have ever returned a report that said, “Leave it alone. Everything’s fine.” It’s another Perry hit job.

Which is exactly what he is doing to the Longhorn sports programs. The governor wants to create a controversy where none exists. If he can make UT athletics look out of control, he can blame Powers. And that’s why his political strategists equated UT sports with Penn State’s pedophilia problems. The analogy is reprehensible and Perry owes an apology to a great university and the coaches and athletes that have strived to create a national reputation for excellence.

And then Perry needs to shut the hell up.

29 Comments for this entry

  • Sunny L. Williams

    Perry at his finest…..Shut up Perry and just GO AWAY!!!! You are ruining Texas and education in Texas!!!!!

  • Jeanne Marie Guadagnoli

    Perry is the epiome of a contriving, malicious, vindictive politician who harbors no concience, morals, or ethics. His agenda is clear; unscrupulous behavior for the sole purpose of fulfilling his narcissitic existence.

  • Rafael Marquez

    Anytime Rick Perry speaks, I feel like someone should follow up whatever he says by quoting Mr Oblaski from Billy Madison:

    “Mr. [Perry], what you’ve just said … is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul…”

  • Truman Raiford

    Not being a political hack, I only recently realized what a petty nincompoop that Perry is. It seems that his mission in life is to bring The University down to the level of the aggy. UGH. DOUBLE UGH. Perry, get the hell out of the way and The University will lead the way.

  • David

    So the fact that Perry is appointing 2 Texas Grads to the A&M Board of Regents clearly supports your theory, right?

    Or is it the fact that Rick Perry forced Bev Kearney at gunpoint to have a relationships with an athlete she was coaching…and forced Major Applewhite at gunpoint to fuck a trainer on his staff while his wife was delivering his kid…and forced DeLoss Dodds at gunpoint to be a fucking idiot (maybe that did happen)?

  • Gary McGowan

    Spot on.

  • adam kohler

    I agree with almost everything you said in the article and am glad that you shed some light on the matter. However, I do not agree with your assertions that the Texas Public Policy Foundation was part of a way to find a way out of the deregulation fiasco. While I am very liberal and don’t agree with all of what those policies say, I do think there are some merits to the Foundations Push to make education better and more sustainable. It might be blasphemy but I think that Tenor should be re-looked at as well as student satisfaction with professors. We need better professors in our State schools to produce worthwhile education. I believe that means professors should be judged on a continuous cycle to insure they are still providing value to the University and the students. It is not fair to the hard working teachers and assistant professors for a lazy tenured professor to bring in less value and spend less time teaching while also earning an disproportionately large pay check. These things need to be leveled and we need to create a better system than what was created over 150 years ago.
    Times change and I think it is obtuse to throw the Texas Public Policy Foundation under the shit bus that Perry is driving.

    Best,
    Adam Kohler

  • Pain & Suffering

    I don’t see anywhere in your hit piece that proves that Perry is doing ANYTHING to destroy UT athletics. Rather, it appears that several employees of the UT athletics department can’t seem to avoid engaging in inappropriate sexual relationships. Perry didn’t cause any of that.

    Furthermore, I don’t think Perry was the guy who forced UT athletics to play the games they played that led to the near destruction of the Big 12 conference, a worthless 24/7 sports network that no one can see, but keeps UT from moving to a conference with more exposure opportunities. Rick Perry isn’t forcing DeLoss Dodds to retain Mack Brown and other underachieving coaches. Rick Perry isn’t forcing anyone to retain DeLoss Dodds as UT’s AD.

    If you want to say that Rick Perry is harming higher education in Texas and playing political butt covering games, that’s one thing, but you completely missed the mark on the athletics side, which is….I don’t know…..THE TITLE OF YOUR HIT PIECE???

    Good thing I didn’t bother reading “Bush’s Brain.” There’s no telling what kind of misleading drivel that POS contains.

  • vin1041

    Jim its not a lie if you believe it

  • Jim

    Interesting response. Probably good you didn’t read Brain, you would’ve missed everything there, too. I never excused anything that happened at UT with regards to the sports department. I simply said that Perry has unfairly equated its failures with pedophilia, and his only reason to do that is to find another rock to throw at President Powers.

  • Jim

    I’m not against TPPF. But they end up being used by Perry, too. I also disagree with the notion, which has almost become axiomatic, that cutting budgets is good. Maybe higher ed has too much money. Maybe it doesn’t. But it is horsecrap to force blunt budget reductions so that the legislature and Perry can avoid their responsibilities to properly fund higher education in Texas.

  • Jim

    Again, I’m not forgiving or apologizing for anything that has happened in UT athletics. I’m pointing out that this governor equated adult consensual sex with Penn State’s pedophilia. And his only reason for doing that is to further destabilize UT and make a case against getting rid of president Powers, who is, demonstrably, a very capable leader for UT>

  • Common Sense

    I’m not a fan of Governor Perry by any stretch but this attack is without merit. Only a simpleton would equate his comparison as equating improper consensual sex to pedophilia. Penn States’s liability lies more in the coverup of the bad acts than in the pedophilia itself. All to “protect” the football program and the image of the University. The disparate actions taken against Applewhite vs Kearney vs. Bryant is significant and reek of coverup, possible racism, sexism, and even prejudice against gays. All could have been avoided if Applewhite had been treated as the others were. Governor Perry did not make that call. I think it is certainly within the Governor’s purview to address any and all these issues. It takes a lot of arrogance to think otherwise.

  • Anita

    He equated the lack of institutional control. Bev Kearney firing lacked the due diligence needed by a major university. No way to run a railroad.

  • cfig

    Or maybe “Penn State situation” was referencing the idea of a lack of institutional control rather than being a direct pedophilia comparison?

    Perry may be damaging higher education, but UT’s governing body and AD are doing a fine job imploding from within with no assistance.

  • Jim

    I have roundly criticized the handling of the Kearney and Applewhite affairs on these pages. (See: What’s a Great University to Do?) But there is simply no denying that the governor tried to elevate UT athletics problems into a crisis that would help him overthrow President Powers. To think that is not his motive is naivete.

  • Jim

    I am not in any sense defending UT’s handling of Kearney and Applewhite and what may be racism and sexism and a possible coverup. But if that is the governor’s criticism, he needs to be more explicit. You can’t have your chief of staff make a comment equating it to Penn State without offering some clarification. Also, there is no denying that Perry sees political opportunity here to increase pressures on William Powers to resign.

  • cfig

    You seem to be operating under the assumption that the Penn State comment was both official and indicative of some sort of ulterior motive, rather than an unofficial statement (which is what it appears to be). Nor do I see if I really don’t see this dire need you do for it to be explained, I think in a passing context it makes perfect sense and isn’t a direct comparison that has anything to do with pedophilia as you keep reiterating.

    What exactly does Perry gain by forcing Powers out, if that was his motive? A whole lot of UT supporters are questioning the job he’s doing right now as well and many would also agree that there are severe issues facing the athletic department that need to be dealt with (not to mention past situations I’m sure you’re aware of that have been quietly swept under the rug).

    I find it humorous how, after a decade of appearing to not favor his alma mater (according to many Aggies I know), Perry has suddenly decided to attack another instate university due to this rivalry he harbors deep within. Sounds a bit conspiracy theory to me.

  • Name

    The governnor being an Aggie has little to do with it. Changes are being implemented at TAMU also, with much less push back, but I guarantee you not everyone is happy with them there either.

    (I never thought I’d be defending this guy.) Perry’s policies are his policies, not Aggie policies or anti-UT policies. The people of the State of Texas elected him to a record number of terms. Aggies, Longhorns, and others.

    I have no issue with you criticizing his performance as governor, and I understand your frustration with him meddling in your university’s affairs because he is meddling in mine as well. I do have issue with you using the current existence of bad blood between the two fanbases to garner more clicks on your site.

    If there is an issue here (and I believe there is) then would it not be better for all Texans to be united in order to see it stopped? Instead of riling up University of Texas grads against their “aggie graduate Governor” who might in turn blame all Aggies for the meddling which in fact is occurring at their beloved University as well?

  • Jim

    Whatever his strategy is for both of those great universities, his tactics are reprehensible. UT has problems with its athletic department; it’s like Rome in its last days. But to equate consensual sex between two adults in one university with pedophilia crimes at another is, flatly, despicable. The tactic is clearly designed to further destabilize the presidency of William Powers, who has resisted Perry’s attempts to turn the university into a 10k degree factory. Perry short changes funding for education after he deregulates tuition and when Powers and other leaders raise tuition (55% over past 10 years) Perry gets angry. His hypocrisy does harm to UT and every other university, TAMU, included. I agree with your assertion Texans should be united against this guy. He sees the state university system and the entire state government as his political infrastructure and if it doesn’t bend to his will and that of his cronies, he goes after the resistors like Powers.

  • Dan

    Your entire premise collapses when you (or at least a coherent reader) stops to realize that the whole “Penn State
    situation” comment was made in reference to LACK OF INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL WITHIN THE PSU ADMINISTRATION. You stubbornly trapped yourself by your misunderstanding of what is obvious to, for instance, many of the posters on THIS comment section. You are dead wrong when you twist that comment to imply it was Sandusky vs. Applewhite, et al. The issue was how the institution botched its role. In fact, mix in Cleve (now $ silenced), Kearney and the 10+ “others”
    referenced by Kearney’s attorney (I could go on…Alamo Bowl, etc., etc) and the analogy is apt, IMO. As much as you wish it, the comment was NEVER about equating pedophilia
    to UT-Austin. The onus is on you to prove that absurdity, sir. You have utterly failed to do so. Show proof or shut it down. Both UT-Austin and PSU have botched their AD’s institutional control. When Kearney’s suit is filed (180 days and ticking), this will be even more clear on the UT side. Just wait.

  • Dave

    this is a stretch. your an idiot

  • Jim

    I’ll say what I’ve already said. Again. The statement by the governor’s chief of staff speaks for itself. I do not condone the behavior of the individuals within the department of athletics at UT. I have been a long time critic. But the fact that the governor would allow his office to compare it to Penn State remains reprehensible, no matter how you parse the situation. Regardless of whatever UT’s institutional problems are at Bellmont Hall, Perry’s analogy went too far. And it is disgusting. Also, it is worth mentioning that President Powers did not hire DeLoss Dodds or Mack Brown or Rick Barnes. He inherited their hubris. I don’t see how he or anyone else turns around UT athletics without a major house-cleaning. And even if Perry wants to argue his comment was about “a loss of institutional control,” he still went too far. But all he really wants to do is get rid of a university president who continues to oppose him on his ideas to change higher education, which are inane and misguided.

  • Jim

    Yes, perhaps I am an idiot. But at least I know basic grammar. If you wish to insult someone’s intelligence, you might learn to spell.

  • Dan

    Jim, the onus remains on you to prove that “another Penn State situation” refers to pedophilia instead of institutional control. It does not “speak for itself”, sir.
    In fact, it is open to multiple interpretations on its face.

    In my post above, I challenged you to offer proof that your interpretation is “the” interpretation.

    Didn’t think you could, and you did not.

    On a lighter note, miss your Austin reports on NBC-Houston.

  • Theodore

    Author is ignorant of the situation at UT.

    UT has been covering up sexual harassment and inappropriate relations for years, using donor money to make the situation go away. Even longhorns and Texas Exes see the implications of a decades worth of scandal finally seeing the light of day being analogous to the PSU scandal. The biggest lesson from PSU is that the coverup is what got them penalized NOT the crime.

    The fact that you say Perry is exacerbating the problem is dumb; you lose more credibility when you say its because of where he did his undergrad. “Light is the best disinfectant,” but Jim doesnt like who is shining the light. So he engineers a subplot to discredit Perry. Typical.

  • Jim

    The author is very aware of the situation within UT’s athletics department, and has written about it: (See: What’s a Great University To Do?) I’m afraid you are missing the point, which is, Perry is willing to make a problem worse to take down William Powers and he’ll do it with a spurious allegation. If, in fact, you are going to make those kinds of comparisons to Penn State, you need to use explicit language and make certain there is no misinterpretation. His goal was, and remains, to compound the issues to create more political pressure on powers, and if he has to use a Penn State comparison, he really doesn’t care. The sooner he can get Powers out the door and get someone more politically sympathetic in his job, Perry will be happy.

  • Jim

    Actually, the onus was on Perry’s chief of staff to make sure the governor’s office was not misunderstood. That is a very inflammatory statement to make publicly to anyone. There should have been no ambiguity about it. Perry wanted it interpreted that way so it could cause more harm. His only goal is to bring down UT president William Powers, and he is willing to say whatever is necessary to cause him more problems. The fact that the statement is open to the Penn State interpretation because of a lack of clarity by the governor’s office is precisely what the governor wanted to achieve. If he were worried about the institutional control of UT, he ought to have said as much instead of using such language. Here’s a little example, “The governor is worried that the administration of the university isn’t doing a very good job of minding the store. And we see no evidence that the situation within the athletic department is being addressed. We’d urge the president to take action to resolve these problems and continue to advance the university and its reputation.”

    Instead, he compared UT to Penn State.

    I left KPRC in 1990, Dan. Worked for KHOU until 99.

  • Mike Jasper

    HAHAHAHAHA. See what happened Jim?

    You can make fun of Rick Perry and Republicans with relative impunity.

    But make fun of Aggies and you’ll be forced to endure a steady and painful antagonism.

    Can’t get away with that around these here parts. No sireee, Jimmy Bob.

    Jasper

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