Steve Patterson: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due to ASU’s Former Athletic Director
Nate McWhortor
By Nate McWhortor,
February 9, 2014 7:48 PM

Have you ever had a relationship end because the other person left you for someone else, someone they perceived to be “better?”  Well a couple months ago this happened to Sun Devil Athletics when Steve Patterson left for Texas. 

Personally, I hope we can bump into Patterson at a restaurant with our new hot athletic director on our arm and championship rings on our fingers, just to show him what he’s missing. Now that the seas of anger have calmed, I think it’s time to open up that pint of Cherry Garcia and reflect on the good times we had with Mr. Patterson.

Steve Patterson, former Chief Operating Officer and Athletic Director of Sun Devil Athletics

Steve Patterson, former Chief Operating Officer and Athletic Director of Sun Devil Athletics


1.  Hiring Todd Graham 

I know technically Lisa Love was still AD when Graham was hired, but Steve Patterson had already been brought in. The writing on the wall was pretty clear that Love was heading out and Patterson would likely be her successor. That being said, Patterson was part of the team that brought Graham on board and thus fueled a complete culture change throughout the entirety of the athletic department.  


 2.  Culture Change

The aforementioned culture change that has been fueled by Coach Graham was possible because Patterson allowed Graham the freedom he needed to operate. He also took Graham’s philosophies and spread them throughout the entire department and to all sports. Within his first few months Patterson was dedicated to changing the fan experience for all Sun Devil Athletics by promoting a more inviting and enticing experience for fans. I personally sat on a committee that was surveyed and dedicated to creating a better game day experience across all sports. That was facilitated by Patterson.

 “Only a force of nature can alter what is stated in the contract, and last I checked, joining the ACC isn’t a force of nature.”

3.  Hiring of Craig Nicholson

Coaching hires and fires can make or break an Athletic Director’s tenure. When ASU Softball Coach Clint Meyers left our storied program for Auburn, there was a lot of concern about who would take the reigns. Patterson knocked it out of the park by hiring Craig Nicholson from Ball State where he built a largely successful program. Additionally, he spent 11 seasons at Central Arizona College, one of which was under Meyers. Nicholson understands the prowess of Sun Devil Softball and knows the local recruiting extremely well. 


4.  National Prominence

ASU's former AD announcing Sun Devil Baseball's future home at Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

Steve Patterson, ASU’s former AD, announced Sun Devil Baseball’s future home at Phoenix Municipal Stadium

There are several things that Steve Patterson did that are helping propel the Sun Devil brand to becoming one of the nation’s elite. When Notre Dame wanted to back out of their contract to play a 2014 football game in Tempe, Patterson stood his ground. He went on the ESPNU Podcast with Ivan Maisel and said something to the effect of, “Only a force of nature can alter what is stated in the contract, and last I checked, joining the ACC isn’t a force of nature.” Patterson also set up a 2015 football game with SEC power Texas A&M.


5. Stadium Stuff 

Steve Patterson had the unfortunate responsibility of facing facility issues. He was instrumental in planning the proposed face lift for Sun Devil Stadium that has fans and alumni drooling. It was especially good because the previous renderings of the redesign had fans grabbing torches and pitchforks (and not the good kind).

With Packard Stadium facing the wrecking ball, the previous regime was trying to work out something with the Chicago Cubs new stadium in Mesa, much to the dismay of…well…everyone. Patterson came in and took his lemons and turned them into lemonade by creating a new home for Sun Devil Baseball at Phoenix Municipal Stadium come 2015. While some are not happy with the move, the new home is much preferred to the alternative (either a huge stadium that doesn’t belong to us, or a pile of rubble in a parking lot). 


 6.  Hiring of Rocky Harris   

ASU's Rocky Harris

ASU’s Rocky Harris

Finally, one of Steve Patterson’s most important accomplishments was hiring Sr. Associate AD for External Relations, Rocky Harris. Harris is a rising star and ASU alum who has quickly made a name for himself by thinking big and getting things done. Having someone like Rocky Harris who knows the traditions and pulse of the Sun Devil Nation in an executive position is advantageous to the Nth degree. You can check out Harris’ many accolades here.  

Wasn’t that a fun trip down memory lane? The good news is that the department is in much better shape than when Patterson arrived in Tempe, and we have him to thank for it. And despite Patterson’s brief tenure, ASU President Michael Crow turned around and replaced him with a respected NFL executive, Ray Anderson. Andersons brings with him an impressive resume in the sports industry and valuable relationships with other influential individuals.

So while some of us want Texas football to go 0-12 this upcoming season, it’s ok to give our past AD credit where credit is due. Qualified leaders are in place to further advance ASU’s national brand, and significant advancements in Sun Devil Athletics are already underway.

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Want to learn more about ASU’s new Athletic Director, Ray Anderson? Then you’ll like this. Tomorrow, Tuesday February 11 at 5:30 p.m. MT, get on the conference call/ fan forum with Ray. He will be covering more details about the renovation of Sun Devil Stadium amongst other things, along with a Q&A.

Call 877-229-8493 and use the ID 19543 at 5:30 p.m. MT to participate.

Arizona State University's new Vice President for University Athletics, Ray Anderson

Arizona State University’s new Vice President for University Athletics, Ray Anderson


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