Texas has found its new basketball coach. Five days after parting ways with Rick Barnes, the university announced that VCU coach Shaka Smart will leave Richmond and take the head coaching position in Austin. Smart has won at least 26 games in each of his six years at the helm of the Rams, accruing a 163-56 record. He has made it to five straight NCAA Tournaments, and led the team to the Final Four in 2010-11. There is no word on how much Smart will make with the Longhorns, but Barnes made $2.62 million last season.
The leader of a Virginia Commonwealth University program that advanced to the 2011 Final Four and posted at least 26 wins in each of his six seasons at the school, Shaka Smart has been named the 24th head basketball coach at The University of Texas, Men’s Athletics Director Steve Patterson announced Friday. The 37-year-old Smart will be introduced at a Friday news conference on the UT campus.
“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to be the head men’s basketball coach at The University of Texas,” Smart said. “I’m very appreciative of President Bill Powers and Athletics Director Steve Patterson for believing in me and giving me the chance to work with a tremendous group of young men. Coming to The University of Texas presents an opportunity to be a part of a special community. My highest priority is spending time and developing relationships with our current players, our former players and the young men who will make up the future of Texas Basketball.”
While at VCU (2009-15), Smart posted an overall record of 163-56 (.744) and guided the Rams to five NCAA Tournament appearances. The 163 wins tied him for the second-highest number of total victories during the first six years of a head coaching career in NCAA history. VCU and Duke are the only two programs in the country to have posted at least 26 wins in each of the past six seasons.
VCU is one of only 11 schools in the nation to earn a NCAA Tournament bid in each of the past five years (Cincinnati, Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, San Diego State and Wisconsin). During Smart’s tenure, the Rams posted a 27-9 (.750) mark in postseason play and a 33-10 (.767) record in the month of March, including a 7-5 mark in five NCAA Tournament appearances. The Rams’ NCAA appearance this past March marked the first time in school history VCU had advanced to the Big Dance five straight years, and the first time in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia that a Division I basketball program had accomplished that feat.
Prior to Smart’s arrival, the Rams were ranked a total of nine weeks in The Associated Press poll in program history. During his six years, VCU made 22 appearances in The AP Top 25, including three straight rankings in the final AP poll in 2012-13 (No. 25), 2013-14 (No. 24) and 2014-15 (No. 25), a program first.
“Leaving VCU was not an easy decision for me and my family,” Smart said. “I will be eternally grateful to the players at VCU with whom I shared such special experiences. They have taught me so much and changed my life.”
“I’m looking forward to building on the past success of Texas Basketball,” Smart said. “This is a proud program that goes back over 100 years, and I embrace that history. There is tremendous potential in this program, and my job is to work extremely hard to ensure that we realize that potential. I can’t wait to get to work.”