Marquette has hired Shaka Smart as its next head coach to take over the Golden Eagles' job, the program announced Friday. Smart is a Wisconsin native who has been facing increased scrutiny at Texas for his lack of postseason success.
"Throughout the search, one individual continued to rise to the top and that was Shaka," Vice President and Director of Athletics Bill Scholl said in a release. "I am beyond excited for our current and future student-athletes who will have the great fortune of being mentored by Shaka. He is a great teacher of the game, while also being a great molder of young men."
At Marquette, Smart will replace Steve Wojciechowski, who was fired this month after seven seasons on the job. Wojciechowski also failed to advance beyond the first round of the NCAA Tournament during two appearances with the Golden Eagles in 2017 and 2019. Marquette finished this season 13-14 (8-11 Big East).
"Maya, Zora and I are absolutely thrilled to join the Marquette family," Smart said. "I'm grateful to President Lovell and Bill Scholl for entrusting me with the growth and development of this storied basketball program and the student-athletes who make it so special. I am extremely excited to get to Milwaukee to begin building relationships and getting to work on the court!"
The move leaves two of the most prominent programs in the Big 12 searching for new coaches after rival Oklahoma saw coach Lon Kruger announced his retirement Thursday.
While the change for Smart may seem like a lateral move to some, it would free him from near-constant scrutiny and allow him to return to his home state. Smart is from Madison, Wisconsin.
Hired in 2015 to replace longtime Texas coach Rick Barnes, Smart was regarded as a rising star at the time because of his success during a six-year stint at VCU.
Though the Longhorns won the 2021 Big 12 Tournament, they had generally struggled in the postseason under Smart. With five-star freshman forward Greg Brown and a veteran group of guards on the roster, the 2020-21 season was supposed to be a breakthrough year. But scoring a season-low 52 points in an upset loss to Abilene Christian marked yet another bitter end.