Confirmed: Marquette to hire Shaka Smart as next men's basketball coach

Shaka Smart
Posted at 10:52 AM, Mar 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-29 08:22:59-04

After firing men's basketball coach Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette University has found its next head coach.

The university confirmedFriday evening the 18th coach of the team will be Madison native, Shaka Smart.

Smart is the current men's basketball coach at the University of Texas at Austin.

In 12 seasons as a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth (2009-15) and Texas (2015-21), 43-year-old Smart guided the two programs to a total of eight NCAA Tournament appearances. Those trips were highlighted by a run from the First Four to the Final Four by VCU in 2011.

Texas claimed the National Invitation Tournament title in 2019 under Smart.

In 12 seasons as a collegiate head coach, the Smart has compiled a 272-142 record and seven of his first 10 teams played in the NCAA tournament. He posted a record of 163-56 (.744) at VCU and five trips to the NCAA. While at Texas, the Longhorns were 109-86 (.559) and made NCAA appearances in 2016, 2018 and 2021. Texas claimed the National Invitation Tournament title in 2019.

"Maya, Zora and I are absolutely thrilled to join the Marquette family," Smart said. in the statement "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!"

"I can't tell you how thrilled I am to welcome Shaka, his wife Maya, and their daughter Zora to the Marquette and Milwaukee communities," Vice President & Director of Athletics Bill Scholl said in the statement. "We undertook an exhaustive national search, during which we discussed our opening with a significant number of highly-qualified coaches. The interest in our position was tremendous and the market certainly understands what a wonderful place Marquette is to coach college basketball."

Marquette students praise Shaka Smart hire

Shaka Smart and Steve Wojciechowski have a connection as one is set to replace the other at Marquette.

Smart rumored to be a Marquette target seven years ago. It didn't happen as Wojciechowski was hired.

Then both had many questions from fans with mixed results. Smart made the tournament three times in six seasons with the Longhorns. But like Wojciechowski, never won an NCAA game.

Smart is a Wisconsin native, and maybe out of the bright spotlight of the Lornhorns he can rekindle the magic he had at VCU.

And some in Texas think he has several positives.

"This is a guy that's relentlessly loyal to his players. To his culture," KXAN Sports Director Roger Wallace says. "He's an outstanding recruiter. But I think this is one of those situations where I think both parties are OK with this. Shaka Smart, six years, didn't win an NCAA tournament. [He] did win UT's first-ever Big 12 tournament, but that was under some unusual circumstances, because they got the free pass into the finals when Kansas couldn't play because of COVID."

"Outstanding recruiter," Wallace continued. "It'll be interesting to see if he can bring that havoc style to Marquette, like he did at Virginia Commonwealth. Couldn't really do it as much at Texas, primarily because he recruited so many really good, big men and that kind of changed the style that he had to play with those, and a lot of one-and-done big men."

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