Texas Longhorns basketball coach Shaka Smart will reportedly leave the Longhorns to take the open head coaching job at Marquette, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.
The report came on Friday morning, just as Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger was holding his retirement press conference.
Smart is a Madison, Wisconsin, native, so if he officially took the position, it would mark a return home.
While the move hasn’t been officially announced by Texas or by Smart, it sounds as if the work to replace him is already starting. As SI.com’s Longhorn Country reported on Friday, decision-makers at Texas are in ‘active pursuit’ of the Red Raiders head coach.
In this 2021 NCAA Tournament, the Longhorns were a No. 3 seed and coming off a Big 12 Tournament championship, the first in program history. But the Longhorns committed a season-high 22 turnovers in a 53-52 loss to Abilene Christian, as the Wildcats won their first NCAA Tournament game in program history.
In six seasons at Texas, Smart has a 109-86 record, three NCAA Tournament bids, and a 2019 NIT Tournament championship.
But, in the NCAA Tournament, Smart is 0-3. First, in 2016, the No. 6 seeded Longhorns fell to No. 11-seeded Northern Iowa, 75-72. Two years later, in 2018, the Longhorns, this time a No. 10 seed, fell to No. 7-seeded Nevada, 87-83.
Should this report become official, then Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte will undergo his second major coaching search this school year. In January, Del Conte fired football coach Tom Herman and hired Steve Sarkisian to replace Herman.
Smart did bring a title to Austin, albeit a 2019 NIT crown. As a No. 2 regional seed, the Longhorns defeated South Dakota State, Xavier, and Colorado before heading to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four. In New York City, the Longhorns beat TCU in the semifinals and Lipscomb in the championship game.
Smart won 20 games in a season twice at Texas. He had just one losing season. He had several one-and-done players, including Myles Turner, Mo Bamba and Jaxson Hayes. And while Smart recruited well throughout his tenure, the results never quite showed up on the court the way Longhorns fans had hoped.
Before Smart arrived in Austin, he served six seasons as the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth, where he became one of the profession’s rising stars. He took VCU to the Final Four in 2011 and won 163 games. But he lost his last two NCAA Tournament games at VCU, meaning Smart hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 2013.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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