Shaka Smart releases statement after stepping down as head coach at VCU

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) —  Shaka Smart has released a statement Friday after he made the decision to step down as the head basketball coach at Virginia Commonwealth University and accept the same position at the University of Texas.

“It has been an extraordinary honor to be your head coach for the past six years. I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to build on the tradition of VCU Basketball,” says Smart.

During Smart’s career at VCU, the Rams reached five NCAA Tournaments and went to the 2011 Final Four.  VCU ended their 2014-2015 season with a 26-10 record and won the program’s first Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament Championship.

Smart continues to say, “I want to express my deep gratitude for all VCU players, past and present, our coaching staff and all the people that have worked tirelessly to support our program.The leadership of President Michael Rao and Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin has been instrumental in VCU Basketball’s tremendous growth. I also want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the VCU students, alumni, the Peppas and our phenomenal fans that make the Siegel Center such an unbelievable place to play and coach.”

Even though this is a tuff time for VCU fans, Smart encourages them by saying, “The ascendance of the VCU program has been and will continue to be about a special group of people both within and outside the immediate team that make VCU Basketball extremely unique. This program’s future is extremely bright. The best is yet to come.”

“Coach Smart has been an outstanding example of this ideal, winning basketball games in record numbers, graduating 100 percent of his student-athletes and serving as a father figure to the young men he coaches. Coach Smart has been much more than a basketball coach at VCU. He has been an exemplary and first-class representative of our university, our city and our commonwealth. We thank him and wish him well,” says VCU President Michael Rao.

President Rao also went on say, “We will search for our next men’s basketball coach with full confidence that we will attract nationally renowned candidates who will ensure that we continue to perform among the nation’s elite programs. VCU is on the rise and offers a rare opportunity to win big, win often and win now – and continue to do so in a first-class way.”

Smart also shared a statement that can be viewed on The Official Website of University of Texas Athletics.

He says, “I’m looking forward to building on the past success of Texas Basketball,” Smart said. “This is a proud program that goes back over 100 years, and I embrace that history. There is tremendous potential in this program, and my job is to work extremely hard to ensure that we realize that potential. I can’t wait to get to work.”

Smart is expected to arrive in Texas today and a press conference will be held.

Stay with 8News for continuous coverage.

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