The Texas Longhorns have become one of the most valuable athletics programs in the recent decade, with its continued monetary incline. And despite some big coaching change ups in the last few years, Texas is still one of the most attractive employment situations for prospective coaches, assistants and administrative roles.
In 2014, Texas athletics reported a $131 million revenue, down six percent from its reported operating revenue and expenses report in 2013.
Despite the loss — which included a $3.3 million hit from its $37.4 million in donor contributions in the 2012-2013 year — Texas has managed to have a steady stream of income coming in via ticket sales, royalties and its flagship network powered by ESPN, The Longhorn Network.
Many attribute the Longhorns’ losses in donations in the 2012-2013 year to the resignation and retirement announcement of legendary National Championship winning head football coach Mack Brown. Texas had been steadily losing its once prolific national recognition, and the administrators at 40-Acres knew that in order to reenergize a fan base, drastic measures had to be taken, so in came Charlie Strong from Louisville in January 2014.
The hiring of Coach Strong went further than the fact that he was replacing Darrell K. Royal’s successor; this move made Strong Texas’ first black head coach in any of its men’s sports, and made him the only black head coach in the Big 12 conference.
When he came in, he immediately made his players agree to a code of conduct that many would refer to as standard etiquette and manners, but between his first Spring Ball and summer, he had no problem dismissing players who didn’t fit the mold of what a Texas Football player was expected to be.
Despite going 6-7 in his first season of his five-year contract, it became very apparent that his recruiting capabilities and overall command of his own ship, made Texas faithful buy in, and realize that Texas had a reputation in athletics and academics, but in order to remain at the top of Forbes’ lists of most valued college teams, it had to increase its strength in numbers, and that meant in all sports.
Former head basketball coach Rick Barnes was hired by Texas in 1998, and in his 17 seasons with the Longhorns, the four-time Big 12 Coach of the Year led them to 17 tournament bids (of 22 overall), six Sweet-Sixteen’s, and three Elite Eight’s, including the Final Four in 2003.
Perhaps Texas felt as though Barnes’ capabilities to take the ‘Horns further had been exhausted and abruptly decided to part with him following 11th-seeded Texas’ 56-48 loss to Butler in the second round of this years’ NCAA Tournament.
While Barnes thought he’d be staying at Texas following the loss, Texas said the two parties mutually agreed to part ways, and Texas would pay his $1.75 million contract buyout.
As many know, Barnes was almost immediately hired to replace Donnie Tyndall at Tennessee. But immediately following the breaking news of Barnes’s career at Texas coming to a halt, one name was brought into focus by media: Shaka Smart.
But what would make the Texas job so appealing to a man who single-handedly put Virginia Commonwealth University on the national basketball map?
Texas falls well short of selling out the 15,540 person capacity Frank Erwin Center, and for a university ranked No. 6 in the nation in enrollment at 51,145, the roughly 10,000 attendees per game might make any candidate leery of accepting a position, especially at a school known for football.
Texas is one of the few NCAA Division-1 schools that makes money without charging students fees or depending on outside resources. It has state-of-the-art facilities, and the infrastructure already in place to offer success on a silver platter to anyone willing to accept the challenge of taking on a new role.
But while major basketball schools such as UCLA, Maryland, Wake Forest and North Carolina State had been in discussion for potential Shaka Smart landing spots, Texas’ athletics budget and resources were likely what put Coach Smart on the lear jet back to Austin.
So what is the State of Texas Athletics at the current moment?
It’s definitely looking up, and Texas has gone above and beyond to install the correct tools necessary to catapult the Longhorns to multi-sport greatness. Sometimes change is difficult to accept, but it’s a necessary requirement to prepare for the future, and with Coach Smart and Coach Strong, Texas is is on the upswing.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to http://brandthunder.com/