Former Texas track and field coach Mario Sategna has been hired as an assistant coach at Arkansas. (LAURA SKELDING / AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Track & Field

Texas parts way with track and field coach Mario Sategna

Posted February 15th, 2018


Texas announced on Thursday that it had “separated” from Mario Sategna, the head coach of the track and field team.

Tonja Buford-Bailey will serve as Texas’ interim head coach, athletic director Chris Del Conte said. The rest of the staff will remain intact. Buford-Bailey will escort a handful of UT athletes to the USATF Indoor Championships this weekend, but most of the Longhorns are off until the Big 12 Indoor Championships from Feb. 23-24.

Tonja Buford-Bailey

In 2016, Sategna took a personal leave of absence that lasted four months. During that time, it was reported that Sategna was the subject of an ethics and misconduct investigation. Buford-Bailey served as one of two co-head coaches during that absence.


“After discussing the future of our track and field program, I felt it was best to move forward and head in a new direction at this time,” Del Conte said in a statement. “Coach Buford-Bailey has a great deal of experience as a head coach and has been a valuable leader in our program for several years now. We have full confidence in her ability to lead our student-athletes and in assuming the duties of head coach immediately.”

No further explanation was given about Sategna’s departure. A university spokesperson said that Del Conte had no further comment at this time. Attempts by the American-Statesman to reach Sategna were unsuccessful.

Sategna, 45, had been UT’s head coach since Texas combined its men’s and women’s programs in 2013. From 2003-13, he served as the associate head coach for the men’s team. Sategna accompanied Texas to this past weekend’s Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville, Ark.

Thursday’s news came as a surprise. Just on Monday, the track program promoted a videotaped interview of Sategna on its Twitter account. In the since-deleted video, Sategna said his favorite part of coaching at Texas was “Just the opportunity to be a part of this chapter, to be a part of tradition, to be a part of history. I have to pinch myself every day when I wake up.”

Buford-Bailey, 47, has been an associate head coach at Texas since 2013, and she primarily oversaw the sprints, hurdles and relays. Before coming to Texas, Buford-Bailey was the head women’s coach at Illinois from 2008-13.

Buford-Bailey was a standout at Illinois who won the NCAA’s champion in the 400-meter hurdles in 1992. Buford-Bailey participated in three Olympics and was the bronze medalist in the 400-meter hurdles in 1996.

Buford-Bailey’s son, Victor, is a freshman basketball player at Oregon who starred at nearby McNeil High.