AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Chris Del Conte is leaving TCU to take over the University of Texas’ athletic department.
The surprise move was announced Saturday by Texas President Greg Fenves, and Del Conte will start his new job Monday. He succeeds Mike Perrin, who was hired in 2015 after former athletic director Steve Patterson was forced out after less than two years.
At TCU, Del Conte led the Horned Frogs into the Big 12 and helped mold a program that turned them into a football power.
While Perrin had never been viewed as a long-term athletic director, Texas had made no hint it was looking to replace him before his employment agreement expired in late 2018. Texas said Perrin will stay on as an adviser for Del Conte.
“Mike has been a trusted partner and friend and will forever have my gratitude and the gratitude of Longhorn Nation,” Fenves said.
“Chris has the experience, vision and character that’s needed for Texas to build on the Longhorns’ rich legacy and to continue winning with integrity for years to come. He knows the state of Texas, supports student-athletes, understands the media landscape of college sports, and is one of the best athletics directors in the country,” Fenves said.
Del Conte will have the title of vice president of intercollegiate athletics at Texas. Longhorns women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky will still lead the women’s athletic department and will report to Del Conte.
A person with knowledge of Del Conte’s contract told The Associated Press he has a seven-year deal with an annual salary starting at $1.3 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school was not yet ready to publicly release contract details. The contract must still be approved by the Texas board of regents
Del Conte will lead one of the largest and wealthiest athletic programs in the country and one that is starved for success on the football field. After three straight losing seasons, the Longhorns (6-6) will play Missouri in the Dec. 27 Texas Bowl under first-year coach Tom Herman. Del Conte will lead a basketball program that plans to build a new on-campus arena after 40 years in the Frank Erwin Center
But while football is struggling, Texas appears set for long-term success across the athletic department. The women’s basketball and volleyball programs rank among the best in the country, baseball was resurgent last season in coach David Pierce’s first season, and the swimming and diving programs routinely compete for national titles. Men’s basketball finished last in the Big 12 last season, but coach Shaka Smart is showing signs of quickly turning his program around.
Del Conte led the TCU program for nine years and recently signed football coach Gary Patterson to a contract extension through 2022. The Horned Frogs played last week in the Big 12 championship game. Under Del Conte, TCU made a $170 million upgrade to its football stadium and a $72 million renovation of its basketball facility, and the baseball team made the College World Series the last three seasons.
“I firmly believe that TCU’s athletics program is positioned for continued future growth and success,” Del Conte said. “After being with President Fenves and hearing his vision for the future of The University of Texas, I couldn’t be more honored to join his leadership team.”