With the strange end to the 2019-20 college basketball season, any coach on the hot seat might be breathing a sigh of relief, and that includes Texas head coach Shaka Smart.
Athletic director Chris Del Conte told the Austin American-Statesman on Friday, “Shaka’s our coach. 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.”
Del Conte did admit that the program was not in perfect shape, but said that he likes “the direction, the energy” of the program.
Shaka Smart has not lived up to the hype since coming over from VCU, going 90-78 in five seasons, which includes zero NCAA Tournament wins. To add salt in the wound is that his predecessor, Rick Barnes, has had a lot of success at Tennessee.
Smart has three years remaining on a guaranteed contact worth $10.5 million, which was also a hurdle for many who might have wanted to show Smart the door. By comparison, coaches like Coach K, John Calipari, Chris Beard and Rick Barnes make between $4.5 and $8 million per year.
Texas was sputtering this season before a late-season surge that saw them win five in a row before a regular season loss to Oklahoma State to close out the season. Texas was set to face Texas Tech in the Big 12 Tournament opener two Thursdays ago which some believed was a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament, however the game was never played after Kansas City and the Big 12 called off the Big 12 Tournament that day.
So, we’ll never know what would’ve happened to this Texas team, but we know that regardless, Smart is coming back, at least for one more season.
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