Univ. of Texas regents put president's job on agenda; rumors swirl about Coach Mack Brown

Published on Tuesday, 10 December 2013 14:26 - Written by

AUSTIN (AP) — The future of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers returned to the spotlight Monday when regents announced they'll consider a "recommendation" about his job that opponents have spent years trying to take away.

An agenda posted for Thursday lists a closed-door meeting in which regents will discuss possible action concerning the employment of Powers, who has helmed one of the nation's biggest campuses since 2006 but whose leadership has drawn scrutiny from critics and lawmakers, including Gov. Rick Perry.

It's the first time UT regents have put Powers' job on their agenda.

Karen Adler, a spokeswoman for the UT system, said she couldn't provide more details because the matter was being taken up in executive session. Powers spokesman Gary Susswein also declined comment, referring calls to regents.

A discussion over Powers' job this week comes amid uncertainty within the UT system over high-profile figures. Regent Wallace Hall is facing possible impeachment over accusations that he misused his office in an attempt to force out Powers, who was expected to testify next week to a legislative committee investigating Hall.

Speculation also continues to surround football coach Mack Brown, who has counted Powers among his supporters as fan frustration mounts over four disappointing seasons since the Longhorns last played for a national title in 2009.

The website orangebloods.com (http://texas.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1585894) is reporting today that Brown will be stepping down as coach. That report has not been confirmed independently by any major media source.

Powers is popular on the UT campus and was named chairman of the Association of American Universities in October. Pressure on his job intensified in 2011 at a time when Perry called for changes in higher education, including the creation of a $10,000 degree that many academics met with fierce resistance.

Perry has also called for improving graduation rates and lowering costs, and backed UT regents in 2012 when they rejected a tuition hike plan endorsed by Powers.

But the selection of a new UT system chairman in August was seen by allies of Powers as a chance to reduce tension between the board and state lawmakers. Paul Foster, the new board chairman, said after taking the job that he was "very supportive" of Powers.

Changes in leadership are underway at the state's other main campus, Texas A&M University, where outgoing President Bowen Loftin last week was named chancellor at the University of Missouri.