Shaka Smart to Texas: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2015

USA Today

The Texas Longhorns haven't waited long to find a replacement for Rick Barnes, as the program will sign Shaka Smart to take over as head coach.

ESPN's Jeff Borzello first reported the news:

Texas made things official on Friday, April 3:

"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."

Smart also provided his thoughts on joining his new team in the team's release:

"Leaving VCU was not an easy decision for me and my family. 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. 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."

KVUE News showed Smart arriving in Austin:

Ben Fredrickson of also had the thoughts of former Texas head coach Rick Barnes, saying, "I know he's coming into a great situation and a great university. He's going to love it."

Chip Brown of Horns Digest reported the details of the contract:

Tim Pearreall of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that VCU offered Smart $2.5 million to stay.

Under Smart, VCU reached the Final Four in 2011, has reached the NCAA tournament in five straight years and won one CAA conference tournament and one Atlantic 10 conference tournament. It's safe to say he's completely transformed the program since taking over in 2009.

Greg Wahl-Stephens/Associated Press
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VCU released a statement as well, expressing Smart's thoughts on leaving the program behind:

"It has been an extraordinary honor to be your head coach for the past six years. I'm extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to build on the tradition of VCU Basketball. I want to express my deep gratitude for all VCU players, past and present, our coaching staff and all the people that have worked tirelessly to support our program. The leadership of President Michael Rao and Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin has been instrumental in VCU Basketball's tremendous growth. I also want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the VCU students, alumni, the Peppas and our phenomenal fans that make the Siegel Center such an unbelievable place to play and coach. The ascendance of the VCU program has been and will continue to be about a special group of people both within and outside the immediate team that make VCU Basketball extremely unique. This program's future is extremely bright. The best is yet to come."

Texas' basketball program could certainly use a transformation. The Longhorns haven't reached the Sweet 16 since the 2007-08 season, also the last time the program won a Big 12 title. Under Barnes, fired March 28, Texas had never won a Big 12 tournament, though it did reach a Final Four and the Elite Eight two other times. It also won three regular-season titles.

Texas certainly has the resources to become a power, and Smart proved he could both recruit and coach with limited resources, so the Longhorns will expect him to bring the program back to national prominence.

His pressing defensive style and tendency to encourage his teams to play fast will certainly make Texas basketball far more entertaining to watch.

And perhaps a bring it national title, too.

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