Reports: Marquette hires Texas coach Shaka Smart after Longhorns' first-round tournament exit

Nick Bromberg
·3-min read

Shaka Smart is heading to his home state.

The Texas coach will be the new coach at Marquette. Smart, a Wisconsin native, has been at Texas for six seasons. The Longhorns were a No. 3 seed in the 2021 NCAA tournament after winning the Big 12 tournament title but lost to Abilene Christian in the first round.

That loss clouded Smart's future at Texas, a school that's famously impatient with coaches. Texas fired football coach Tom Herman after four seasons and a 7-3 campaign in 2020. Herman was replaced by former USC coach and Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.

The 2021 NCAA tournament bid was Texas’ third in Smart’s six seasons. The Longhorns went 19-8 in 2020-21 and posted the best winning percentage of Smart’s tenure. Texas had never lost fewer than 12 games before this season.

Smart had a career record of 109-86 with Texas. On the surface, moving from the Big 12 to the Big East looks like a downgrade. But Smart is from Madison and heads to a school that has won at least 20 games in 10 of the last 15 seasons.

Marquette made the move official on Friday evening.

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Smart came to Texas from VCU

Smart arrived at Texas ahead of the 2015-16 season after becoming one of the hottest names in coaching at VCU. Smart took the Rams to the 2011 Final Four in his second season with the team after VCU upset Georgetown, Purdue and Kansas before losing to Butler.

The Rams made the NCAA tournament in each of Smart’s next four seasons at the school and he left VCU with a record of 163-56.

Smart is being hired at Marquette to replace the fired Steve Wojciechowski. The school announced that Wojciechowski had been fired on the first day of the NCAA tournament and a day before Texas lost to ACU.

It's also not the first time that Marquette has wanted Smart. After Buzz Williams left Marquette for Virginia Tech after the 2013-14 season, local reports said that Smart would become the Eagles' new coach. That was obviously false; Smart stayed at VCU for another season before taking the Texas job.

Texas Longhorns coach Shaka Smart flashes the hook'em horns salute after cutting down the net following the Longhorns' 91-86 victory over Oklahoma State Big 12 title game on March 13. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Texas Longhorns coach Shaka Smart flashes the hook'em horns salute after cutting down the net following the Longhorns' 91-86 victory over Oklahoma State Big 12 title game on March 13. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Texas and Oklahoma now looking for coaches

Smart's departure from Texas creates the second coaching vacancy in the Big 12 in as many days. Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger announced Thursday that he would be retiring after a college head coaching career that spanned six schools and 35 seasons. Iowa State was the first school to make a coaching move when it fired Steve Prohm and moved quickly to hire former assistant T.J. Otzelberger from UNLV.

Will the Texas and Oklahoma searches overlap? Texas has the money to go after a high-profile coach. It just doesn't have the recent basketball success to call itself a powerhouse.

Texas hasn’t made a Final Four since 2003 and has been a top-four seed six times since then. But the Longhorns have made just two Elite Eights in the past 18 seasons and haven’t won an NCAA tournament game since 2014.

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