- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2015

Shaka Smart, who has been VCU’s coach for six seasons, has accepted the same job at Texas, according to multiple reports late Thursday night.

Smart, who turns 38 on Wednesday, coached the Rams for six seasons, leading the team to a Final Four appearance in 2011. He won more than 20 games each season and will leave the team with a .744 winning percentage.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Smart told his players of his decision during a 10 p.m. team meeting. He had originally called a meeting for 8 p.m., but told them he had to postpone it.

Smart replaces Rick Barnes, who coached the Longhorns for 17 years and made 16 NCAA tournament appearances and one Final Four. Barnes, fired earlier this week, was quickly hired by Tennessee.

VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin released a statement Thursday night that said the school would have no comment on the matter out of respect to Smart and to Texas.

Often courted by other programs — he turned down an offer to become the coach at UCLA after the 2012-13 season — Smart said two weeks ago during an NCAA tournament press conference that his sense of loyalty has been the reason why he’s remained at VCU.

“You owe it to your family to do the right thing for your family and do what you think makes the most sense for the people closest to you,” Smart said. “As coaches, I consider us to be really close to our players. Obviously, they’re a big factor in any type of decisions we make.”

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