Univ. Of Texas Widely Praised For Landing TCU's Chris Del Conte As Next AD
Univ. of Texas President Greg Fenves "pulled off a stunning move" when he "reached an agreement" with TCU AD Chris Del Conte to become the school's new AD, according to sources cited by Bohls & Davis of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Del Conte had spent the past eight years at TCU. He will have "final oversight" of all UT athletics. Sources said that UT women's AD Chris Plonsky "will report to Del Conte." He "will replace" interim men's AD Mike Perrin, who was hired in September '15 after former AD Steve Patterson's "rocky 22-month tenure." UT had "already announced that Perrin's time as AD would end" in August '18. Fenves and Del Conte "didn't talk seriously about the position until meeting at the National Football Foundation's awards dinner" in N.Y. last week. A source said that Del Conte "accepted the job a few days later." Del Conte has "agreed to a seven-year contract" worth approximately $1.3M annually. However, any contract "must be approved" by the UT System Board of Regents. Bohls & Davis wrote under Del Conte's watch, TCU has "grown into a Big 12 powerhouse, one that's enjoyed record-breaking donations in three of the past four years" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 12/10). In Ft. Worth, William Wilkerson wrote Del Conte "led TCU's charge into the Big 12" and has been a "central figure in several facility upgrades around campus, most notably" the $164M overhaul of Amon G. Carter Stadium. TCU last month also announced plans to spend $100M on "luxury suites and premium seating at its football stadium." UT is "hoping that Del Conte will be able to stabilize an athletics department that hasn't seen much winning out of its major sports recently, particularly football" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/10).
BOLD MOVE: The AMERICAN-STATESMAN's Bohls wrote this is the "second-biggest athletic hire" of Fenves' tenure. Del Conte's "sudden hiring signals a major change" for UT athletics. The school now has a "bold, articulate figure who can speak out on national and Big 12 issues in the future and lead the athletic department back into prominence." Del Conte and Fenves "should make a terrific match." Neither is "scared to take strong stands." Fenves landed Del Conte without an "awkward, unwieldy search that could have dragged out" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 12/10). 247SPORTS' Chip Brown wrote Del Conte is the "right person to come in and lay out a vision for Texas athletics, starting with being a smooth consensus builder and fund-raiser with a great personality that would allow him to navigate and even calm the sometimes treacherous political waters" at UT (247SPORTS.com, 12/9). In Dallas, Chuck Carlton cited a source as saying that Fenves "targeted Del Conte as his top choice several months ago, struck by the on-field and fundraising success at TCU" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 12/10).
TWITTER REAX: ESPN.com's Jake Trotter: "Del Conte probably the best possible hire Texas could have made for athletic director. Good for the Big 12 he'll be staying in the league, too." The Austin American-Statesman's Ryan Autullo: "In the last three major searches, Texas athletics landed arguably the top available candidate on the market in Shaka Smart, Tom Herman, and now Chris Del Conte. Well done, Horns." The American-Statesman's Davis: "Texas President Greg Fenves just crushed it with the Del Conte hire. Cannot overstate this in any way, shape, form." Arizona Daily Star's Greg Hansen: "Wow. Former Arizona assistant AD Chris del Conte becomes AD at Texas. He goes from Big Money to BIG money. Well deserved." Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday: "With the Texas hire of Chris Del Conte, it's fun to note interim AD Mike Perrin’s tenure was approximately 25 months after replacing the fired Steve Patterson. Patterson was Texas' AD for 22 months." The Austin American-Statesman's Cedric Golden: "Great hire by Texas president @gregfenves. Chris Del Conte is a winner who has helped turn TCU into a great program in several sports. The next few years should be fun in Austin." San Antonio Express-News' Mike Finger: "If Del Conte can get Texas past that whole ‘Houston donors vs. DFW donors’ dynamic, he’ll be awesome. That as much as anything has led to all the dysfunction." USA Today's Dan Wolken: "If Texas has indeed hired Del Conte, that's a massive move and maybe the smartest thing Texas has done in a decade."
NO REGRETS: In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel wrote Del Conte made the "right, easy, decision." He has "done everything he sought to accomplish" at TCU. The timing "was right." If Del Conte was "ever going to leave, do it now." Had he "passed on the job, UT may have never called again." Del Conte "isn't rejecting TCU, so applaud the man for a job well done and give sincere best wishes for the future." He did what he was "hired to do by TCU, and leaves the athletic department in fine condition" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/10). Also in Ft. Worth, Carlos Mendez writes Del Conte's legacy at TCU "comes down to fundraising, hiring coaches and building relationships" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/11).
MORE DOMINOES TO FALL? The STAR-TELEGRAM's Engel cites a report which said that the contracts of TCU's men's basketball, football and baseball coaches "became null and void" with Del Conte's exit. A source said that the buyout provisions in the deals for Gary Patterson (football), Jamie Dixon (basketball) and Jim Schlossnagle (baseball) "are not so prohibitive that TCU does not feel another school would be deterred from paying if it was so inclined" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 12/11).