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/ April 3, 2013
Rick Perry, Regents & The Next Penn State: Welcome To Texas Politics, Y’all

You think that no-confidence vote was a big deal? Well, at least Andrew Cuomo wasn’t trying to fire J-Sex.

The eyes of Texas–and the nation–are upon Rick Perry as he trudges on, possibly seeking to fire University of Texas at Austin’s president Bill Powers with the help of newly-appointed regents. If you don’t think college rivalries affect politics, you’ve never been to Texas.

For years, Powers (Longhorn) and the Governor (a devout Aggie) have disagreed on the role of public universities. Especially in 2008, when Perry introduced “seven breakthrough solutions”: new Republican-centric strategies for Texas university and college systems.And, surprise, surprise–the flaming libs in Austin, including Powers and the rest of the UT faculty, didn’t take too well to the new rules.

Neither did Perry’s bros at A&M. Now that Perry has a chance to hire new underlings for the UT Board of Regents, it seems like the Governor has been on a personal vendetta to sack Powers. Perry appointed members to UT’s Board of Regents in February. The group includes Ernest Aliseda, Jeff Hildebrand, and Paul Foster. Even though, yes, all are Longhorns, to almost no surprise, all three are Perry loyalists. The three have donated a combined total of $783,486 to Rick Perry’s campaign funds.

Sources confirmed to the Houston Chronicle that “Perry has communicated through emissaries that Powers should resign to avoid an embarrassing regents vote to fire him.”

The prospect of a governor convincing regents to fire a university president isn’t far fetched. After all, in 2010, Perry fired a Texas Tech regent for supporting an opponent, Kay Bailey Huchison (Longhorn),  who may have taken him away from his precious throne. This isn’t Powers’s first time at the rodeo, either: in 2012, one regent asked UT Chancellor Francisco Cigrarroa to fire Powers stemming from a request for a 2.6 percent tuition hike.

In March, Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo, Longhorn) spoke with regents to discuss a four-year-old incident regarding sexual relations between a UT football coach and a student. “The regents don’t want this to become another Penn State situation,” Zaffirini told the Chronicle.

“I really am convinced that some of the regents have decided that [UT-Austin President Bill Powers] should go,” she later said to the Texas Tribune. “And they are really harassing him, making his life miserable, hoping he will resign.”

The Joint Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, a bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers, voted in overwhelming support of Powers after investigating government issues in Texas’s public universities. And the University of Texas at Austin’s daily newspaper, The Daily Texan, came out in support of Powers in a joint editorial.

“We were reassured seeing the legislative branch of our state government recognize Powers’ commitment to UT, even as Gov. Rick Perry — and the nine regents, many of whom have made significant financial contributions to Perry’s political campaigns — attempt to wield disproportionate power over this University,” the article reads. “We know that, should the time come, Bill Powers has the support of UT students behind him, too.”

And this is the Lone Star State at its best.

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