In its quest for a football coach that ultimately ended with the hiring of Charlie Strong, the University of Texas paid a search firm more than $250,000 to find him.
Invoices found by USA Today note that the school paid Korn/Ferry International $266,990 for its services after Mack Brown said he'd step down following the Alamo Bowl in December.
The executive search firm Korn/Ferry International billed Texas $250,000 for helping hire new coach Charlie Strong in January, plus an administrative fee of 6 percent — $15,000. An additional invoice dated March 19 charged Texas $1,990 in expenses, mostly travel expenses for Korn/Ferry consultant Jed Hughes.
In a connection that is in no way coincidental, Korn/Ferry is the same search firm the school used to hire athletic director Steve Patterson from Arizona State. According to USA Today, the search that led to Patterson's hiring cost the school more than $200,000. Texas did not comment for the story.
Both searches are still less than the $320,000 Colorado State paid in 2011 to Stuart Spencer search firm when it hired Jim McElwain. McElwain was an assistant at Alabama before taking the CSU job.
The use of a search firm in big-time college athletics has become commonplace, though fees in the neighborhood of what Texas paid are definitely not. Most firms with price quotes in the USA Today report have fees less than six figures. However, this is the University of Texas, the flagship university of a state that likes everything to be bigger and better.
And using the same search firm for both the athletic director and football coach is a boom or bust proposition. If Strong fails to live up to expectations and the pesky Texas Board of Regents somehow becomes unhappy with Patterson in the future, you can bet the university won't be using Korn/Ferry again. But if Patterson and Strong are successful and Rick Barnes retires while both are still there, you can guess who the leader for the university's basketball coach search services will be.
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