Texas AD says Shaka Smart will return as basketball coach

Yahoo Sports

Before the NCAA tournament was canceled, one of the biggest questions in the Big 12 concerned Texas head coach Shaka Smart.

Would he keep his job?

That answer is now yes.

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‘Shaka’s our coach’

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte told the Austin American-Statesman on Friday that Smart will be back next season.

“Shaka’s our coach,” Del Conte said. “Nothing’s changed. We won five of the last six down the stretch, finished third in the conference. We have a good team coming back. Nothing’s changed on my end.”

Shaka Smart will return to Texas, ending speculation that his job was at risk. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Shaka Smart will return to Texas, ending speculation that his job was at risk. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Shaka’s shaky start at Texas

Texas has gone 90-78 in five seasons since Smart joined the program as one of the hottest coaching candidates in basketball. Previously, Smart took VCU to the NCAA tournament five straight seasons, including a trip to the 2011 Final Four.

The Longhorns are 40-50 in Big 12 play and 17-34 against ranked opponents under Smart, according to the Statesman.

Texas made the NCAA tournament in two of Smart’s first four seasons in Austin, losing in the first round in both 2016 and 2018. Some speculated that Texas would need to make the NCAA tournament and win at least one game for Smart to keep his job.

Longhorns were on NCAA bubble

With no NCAA tournament, a strong finish to the regular season was enough for Del Conte. Texas finished 19-12 (9-9 Big 12) and was squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, needing a good showing in the Big 12 tournament to earn a bid.

Smart has three years and $10.5 million remaining on his contract, a relative bargain for a program like Texas.

“I’m really excited,” Smart told the Statesman. “I’m big on controlling what I can control, and that’s been my mentality all season long. If I really allowed myself to get super caught up in everything that was said or written, it would’ve been a very distracted season.”

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