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Chris Del Conte: Texas’ new athletic director lays out his thoughts on his UT vision, goals

Posted December 11th, 2017

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Texas introduced former TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte as the new Longhorns athletic director on Monday, and Del Conte did not disappoint.

It lasted for 40 minutes, as he fielded questions about Texas, Texas’ future, his old job at TCU, his thoughts on the immediate challenges he’ll be facing and, yes, even about playing Texas A&M again. He got emotional at times, playfully poked at media members, thanked various UT coaches and administrators who came before him. He said the right things, punched the right buttons to students and coaches and donors and potential donors, and sounded like he’s ready to get to work.

“I don’t think anything was ever broken,” Del Conte said when asked about Texas’ perception from the outside. “Every organization goes through patches. When you lose leadership after 33 years, football coaches, basketball coaches, baseball coaches that have been phenomenal, you’re going to have a little adjusting period.

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“This place can ride any rocky road, and a lot of it is because of people,” he added. “It just takes a little while. From afar, this has always been the University of Texas, it has always been the beacon, it has always been the institution around the country that people look to for leadership and follow and realize that when you come here, you can win the national championship. And we will roll up our sleeves and do our very best to accomplish that.”

At Texas, he replaces Mike Perrin, who’s been running things since Steve Patterson was removed in 2015.

All of Texas’ greatest hits were there — including DeLoss Dodds, Mack Brown and Jody Conradt — to watch Del Conte’s introductory presser. Perrin was there, too.

Del Conte worked the room from the start, greeting those four along with others, flashing the Hook ’em up in front along with Perrin and Texas President Gregory L. Fenves, holding the pose for several seconds to accommodate all the cameras.

Fenves, who introduced Del Conte, first thanked Perrin for his past two years of service. “There was a lot of turbulence and a lot of problems within the athletics department, our loyal fans and Longhorn Nation,” Fenves said. “The past two years, Mike Perrin has provided integrity, stability, calmness, helped address a number of problems that were important to solve and has brought Texas athletics to a new stage.”

Fenves then asked for a big round of applause for Perrin, and got one.

Del Conte was asked what his vision is for Texas athletics.

“The vision of the University of Texas was set long ago: To win championships, to do it the right way, to be the beacon for others to follow,” he said. “That’s the vision. Simple.”

Del Conte ran TCU athletics since 2009. He oversaw more than $300 million in construction projects and facilities upgrades there and guided the school from the Mountain West into the Big 12.

Del Conte said he received a phone call Monday morning from TCU football coach Gary Patterson. “‘I love ya, but I hate you today, my man,’” Del Conte said Patterson told him.

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Del Conte’s only the fourth UT athletic director since 1981.

He’ll have plenty of immediate issues to deal with in Austin. That includes the phasing out of the Frank Erwin Center, the building of a new basketball arena, the South End Zone project at Royal-Memorial Stadium and recent turnover in the Longhorn Foundation.

Wins and championships are great, but there’s a real money side to Texas athletics, too.

“We’ll get to that,” he said. “Anything that is done is done to the vision of our president and our coaches and our student-athletes. My job is to carry that out. But every Longhorn is going to take part in that. There are so many goals for this institution, and we’ll get those settled, we’ll look at them, dust off the old plans, see where they’re at and we’ll get to work immediately asking people to support this vision. But ultimately we’re asking people to support the vision of our coaches and our student-athletes.”

He was asked about renewing the Texas A&M series. Del Conte said he didn’t have any comment about the Aggies today, but that it certainly would be looked at. He added that future schedules are planned out far ahead, and that he already has TCU games scheduled to 2030.

He was asked about the power change with UT athletics — he now will oversee men’s and women’s athletics, and women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky now will report to him. Before, Perrin ran men’s athletics, Plonsky ran women’s athletics and both reported to Fenves.

“There are no changes,” Del Conte said. “Chris Plonsky’s a star. I absolutely adore her. We are going to have a relationship of working together. Title IX is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to college athletics, provided an opportunity for women to participate in intercollegiate athletics. What an awesome opportunity that is. And she’s been a phenomenal steward of the University of Texas, and she is great. And we will have a working relationship. Who are you reporting to? That’s nothing. Who do you serve? You serve coaches and student-athletes. Period. And that should be the responsibility of all of us.”

He was asked what his immediate priorities are. Del Conte said his first to-do is to meet the entire staff and coaches, as well as to meet with UT student-athletes. He called the process taking “a deep dive” over the next two months.

Del Conte and Fenves discussed the job last Monday; on Wednesday night, Del Conte told his family he had decided to take the job. That meant the family would be moving to Austin, including his two teenage daughters, who’ll be moving schools.

“The next morning, I received a text from one of my girls,” Del Conte said. “‘Life is all about taking risks. If you never take your risk, you’ll never achieve your dreams.’ Profound, from a 16-year-old who’s going to have to move high schools. Profound.”

Del Conte said he also got a text from his other daughter. It said simply to listen to Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.”

The post Chris Del Conte: Texas’ new athletic director lays out his thoughts on his UT vision, goals appeared first on Hook ‘Em.

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