Texas AD Del Conte will retain Smart next season: 'Shaka's our coach'
Chris Covatta / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte erased any doubt about the future of head coach Shaka Smart.

"Shaka's our coach," Del Conte told Brian Davis of the American-Statesman on Friday. "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."

Smart was first hired as Longhorns head coach in 2015 following six years at VCU. In his first year with Texas, he led the team to a 20-13 regular-season record and an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament before losing in Round 1. Two seasons later, Smart steered Texas to March Madness for a second time but lost in the opening round once again.

In five seasons with Smart at the helm, the Longhorns have never ranked higher than 17th nationally. They've also never progressed past the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. They reached that stage again this year before the college basketball playoffs were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Until the Longhorns' unexpectedly strong finish to the regular season, Smart's stint looked likely to be ending. Instead, the 42-year-old is looking to carry that positive momentum into 2020-21.

"I'm really excited," Smart told Davis. "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.

"We have an opportunity in front of us to take a big step, and there's a ton of urgency inside of our program to do that. It's easy if you allow yourself to get caught up in things that our said on the outside, but our focus is to help our guys through this challenging period we have now."

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Texas AD Del Conte will retain Smart next season: 'Shaka's our coach'
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