Chris Del Conte

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The $9 million goal set for creating a baseball enhancement project for the Longhorns is now one step closer to being fulfilled.

On Tuesday, Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte announced that Roger Clemens, former Longhorn pitcher and seven-time MLB Cy Young Award-winner, and his wife, Debbie, pledged a $1 million donation to the Longhorns’ baseball program. Clemens, who was a member of the 1983 national championship team, played two seasons for Texas and compiled a 25–7 record on the mound.

“On my way to a 24-year career in the major leagues, I can say for me, it started right here at the University of Texas,” Clemens said. “When I was at Texas, we had the best facility in the nation. Now with the addition of the indoor complex and training facility, it will once again be the best place to play, work out and take your game to the next level.”

Clemens has had all four of his sons go through Texas in some shape or fashion. His youngest two, Kacy and Kody, played on the 2017 team together. Kacy was the Longhorns’ team and offensive MVP last year. He was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the eighth round of the 2017 MLB Draft. Kody, meanwhile, is currently the 2018 team’s most lethal player and a midseason All-American.

Texas is currently the only team in the Big 12 without an indoor baseball training facility, but expect that to change with this donation and potentially more to follow.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ thrilling, last-second victory over Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon was largely overshadowed by the fallout from documents from a federal investigation published Friday in an explosive Yahoo Sports report on corruption in college basketball.

The report asserted that junior guard Eric Davis Jr. received improper benefits in the form of a $1,500 loan from ASM Sports. UT athletic director Chris Del Conte announced Friday evening that Davis will not play “for precautionary reasons until further notice” while Texas investigates the situation.

Texas was one of more than 20 Division I programs involved in the federal investigation, including North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, Alabama and USC.

A number of high-profile active players were also linked to receiving improper benefits, among those included Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Duke’s Wendell Carter — potential future NBA lottery picks.

Texas head coach Shaka Smart released a statement on the situation, stating, “I am, and always have been, fully committed to ensuring that our program operates within NCAA rules.”

After Saturday’s victory, Smart and several Texas players spoke publicly about the situation for the first time. Smart reaffirmed his condemnation of the alleged actions, but acknowledged the importance of the discussion they raised.

“Things need to change, and people need to follow the rules better,” Smart said. “We have a long haul ahead of us as a sport — to figure out what the right thing to do is moving forward. There is no easy answer. There is no quick fix.”

Davis continues to practice with the team, but he did not suit up against the Cowboys and will likely not play in the team’s final two regular season games. For now, his future remains in limbo as Texas conducts an internal investigation.

The new information only further stirs the conversation about the role of the NCAA and the student-athlete. The topic remains one of the long-standing and hotly debated issues in collegiate athletics.

“The stuff that has been on the media, obviously it sheds light on something that, as a sport, we need to address and improve,” Smart said. “I don’t have all the answers, but I know there is going to need to be a lot of change.”

Texas players, when asked, offered a more straightforward solution.

“Pay to play is how I feel,” junior guard Kerwin Roach II said. “I feel like if that happens, a lot of allegations and a lot of scandals and all that would be taken care of. But you just have to find a way where everyone gets paid evenly and there won’t be any problems in the NCAA.”

Junior forward Dylan Osetkowski echoed that sentiment.

“I’m not going to say too much about it. But like (Roach) said, I think we should get paid,” Osetkowski said.

And does Osetkowski think it’ll happen?

“Someday.”

Sophomore guard Eric Davis Jr. is averaging 11 points over his last conference six conference games, after struggling with shooting for most of the season. Davis has helped Texas capture three wins in its past five games. 

Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Texas announced Friday evening that junior guard Eric Davis Jr. will be withheld from playing for the Longhorns “until further notice.”

The news comes in response to a Yahoo Sports report released Friday morning, which obtained documents and records from a recent federal investigation that lists Texas as one of several college basketball programs that has former and/or current players who have allegedly received improper benefits.

“We have initiated an internal review of the recent report that included allegations involving current and former University of Texas men’s basketball players,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said in a statement. “We are in the process of gathering facts, but I did meet with Eric Davis Jr. this afternoon and let him know we are withholding him from competition for precautionary reasons until further notice, pending the review of this situation.

“Winning with integrity is paramount to Texas Athletics, and we take these allegations very seriously,” Del Conte continued. “We expect all of our programs to comply with NCAA rules, and every year we have all of our student-athletes sign forms attesting they will follow those rules. Beyond that, we put a great deal of effort and resources into educating our coaches and student-athletes on NCAA rules and regulations. Our compliance department is constantly monitoring and communicating with our coaches and student-athletes, as we are in this case.

“We will continue to work through this recent development and provide further updates when we have the necessary information to do so.”

Davis is one of seven active college basketball players implicated in the report. Davis received $1,500 from ASM Sports, according to the report. Current players from Alabama, Duke, Kentucky, Michigan State, South Carolina and USC were also singled out by the FBI.

Ex-Texas center Prince Ibeh (2012-16) was also one of several former college players named in the report for either meeting with or having a meal with ASM Sports agent Christian Dawkins.

Davis has logged 26.2 minutes per game for Texas this season. He filled sophomore Andrew Jones’ place as the starting shooting guard after Jones was diagnosed with leukemia in January. Davis ranks sixth on the team in scoring with 8.8 points per game and leads the Longhorns with 40 converted 3-point attempts.

“I became aware of the report late last evening,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “I had no previous knowledge of the alleged extra benefits described in the report. I am working with our athletic department staff and am prepared to cooperate fully with the investigation into this matter.

“I am, and always have been, fully committed to ensuring that our program operates within NCAA rules. Our staff has always been very direct and thorough in educating our student-athletes about the specific parameters regarding agents.”

Texas plays Oklahoma State at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Longhorns will have to shorten their already-tight rotation as the program sidelines Davis until the University gathers more information on the subject. Del Conte and Texas will err on the side of caution to prevent or limit possible NCAA penalty, especially in light of recent NCAA violations bestowed upon Louisville.

Texas track and field coach Mario Satenga will help coach Team USA in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. He will assist the nation’s top throwers as well as other members of Team USA.

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Texas track and field head coach Mario Sategna “has separated from the program” in his fifth year as head coach, per a press release from Texas Athletics on Thursday morning. Associate Head Coach Tonja Buford-Bailey will take over as interim head coach immediately.

“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,” Texas athletic director Chris 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.”

Sategna spent 15 years in total with the Texas program, in which he saw his fair share of success. In 2016, however, Sategna underwent an ethics probe in which he took a four-month leave of absence.

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte made a resounding proclamation during the ceremony for the new Texas Tennis Center Sunday afternoon.

“This is, by far, the greatest tennis facility in the country,” Del Conte said.

The Longhorns’ brand-new tennis facility, which is located directly north of UFCU Disch-Falk Field, had its grand opening Sunday. The project has been years in the making. Since the retirement of the Penick-Allison Tennis Center at the end of the 2014 spring season, Texas’ tennis program has not had a formal home.

That all changed on Sunday when men’s head coach Michael Center and women’s head coach Howard Joffe cut the ribbon to signify a new beginning for Longhorn tennis.

“It’s a really special day,” Center said. “It warms my heart to see all these people here come to cut a ribbon to open up this facility.”

Many donors and former Longhorn tennis players were in attendance for the ceremony. The new facility, worth over $20 million, features 12 courts along with courtside seating. The facility also houses communication rooms, a weight room and customized lockers for each player.

“It’s amazing to have this facility now,” senior Dani Wagland said. “It’s been four years that we’ve been without one, and I’m incredibly excited to get to play here for my final season.”

Current Longhorn players were wowed by not just the incredible physical features of the new facility but also its intangible ones. The facility looks to create a greater fan atmosphere around Texas tennis, which has been missing since the last facility was torn down.

“(The fans) change the whole dynamic,” junior Katie Poluta said. “It’ll be great to have our own supporters.”

Despite officially opening the new Texas Tennis Center this weekend, the Longhorns were unable to complete their weekend matches at the facility due to weather.

The Longhorns were forced to move their matches to the Weller Indoor Tennis Center — but that didn’t prevent Texas from easily defeating its opponents. The No. 12 Longhorn women looked strong on Saturday, winning 4-0 over UT-Rio Grande Valley and 4-0 over Texas State.

“I was very pleased with our group as whole,” Joffe said. “There’s definitely a lot of rust on us, lots of places we need to get better and some places we were terrific.”

The No. 8 Longhorn men soundly defeated UTSA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday. Texas rolled past UTSA, 7-0, led by junior Harrison Scott’s 6-2, 6-2 victory over Gabriel Bugiga. The Longhorns finished off the day with a 4-0 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, which was clinched with a 6-2, 6-1 win by junior Colin Markes over Biyik Akinshemoyin.

The Longhorns also broke in their new home with a 4-0 victory over SMU on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Trenton Daeschner | Daily Texan Staff

Walking in New York City last week during the National Football Foundation meetings, Chris Del Conte received a phone message that altered not only his career, but his life.

“Bob’s Chop House. 6:30.”

Del Conte promptly arrived at the restaurant and headed for a back corner. There waiting for him was UT President Gregory Fenves, preparing to discuss Texas’ athletic director position.

“When he said, ‘I want to talk to you about this position,’ I was floored. I was honored,” Del Conte said. “We have one rodeo. My thought was if I'm ever going to do it, why not now? Why not at the University of Texas? It’s like riding a bull — you got eight seconds, let's hang on, see what we can do.”

Del Conte metaphorically jumped on that bull as he walked into Bellmont Hall inside Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Monday morning and was introduced as Texas’ new athletic director.

Countless big names were in attendance to see Del Conte — from former head coaches Mack Brown and Jody Conradt, to current head coaches Shaka Smart and David Pierce, to former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, who Del Conte praised as being “a beacon in our industry, someone I looked up to my whole life.”

Del Conte fought back tears in the opening moments of his press conference.

“By the way, I'm an amazing crier,” Del Conte said. “I cry when we win. I cry when we lose. It’s OK to show emotion because it means you're real.”

In a certain way, he was amazed that he had taken this job. Del Conte built a strong reputation as one of the nation’s top athletic directors while at TCU. He took the athletic program of a small private school to new heights with a transition into a Power 5 conference and massive donor-funded projects, including building a new football stadium and renovating a basketball arena.

But Texas offered a new, unique challenge that Del Conte just couldn’t pass up.

“I think that's why you come to the University of Texas, for that challenge,” Del Conte said. “If you’re not ready for those expectations and challenge, you should not be at this podium.”

Del Conte repeatedly passed on answering the hard-hitting, program-altering questions on Monday. He was asked about the new on-campus basketball arena, the potential seating expansion of the south end zone at Royal-Memorial Stadium, turnover in the Longhorn Foundation, fundraising and renewing the rivalry with Texas A&M.

“We’re supposed to ask softball questions in your (first) press conference,” Del Conte said jokingly.

The decision-making will come in due time for Del Conte. Above anything else on Monday, he just wanted to get acclimated with his surroundings. It was just his first day on the job.

But the days ahead are where Del Conte will have to prove his billing. He said he’s going to do “an extensive deep dive over the next two months (and) analyze strengths and weaknesses.” Texas certainly has a host of priorities on the agenda for the future.

“For the next several months, it will be looking and learning,” Del Conte said. “I don’t have all the answers. I have an opinion — an opinion that's shared by 500,000 living alumni, 60,000 students, 500 athletes. We will all have that conversation and share those, look to what's right. There’s not an answer tomorrow.”

Fenves said the hiring of Del Conte came at a good time for Texas, noting that the football regular season had ended. And Fenves also knew that Texas was not the only school potentially interested in Del Conte.

“I wanted to be ahead of any other potential searches,” Fenves said. “Chris Del Conte is a hot commodity. I wanted to get him here to Texas before he had too many other alluring offers.”

Del Conte’s hiring also finally ends Texas’ search for a permanent athletic director, which began in September 2015 after Steve Patterson was fired.

It’s widely known that outgoing athletic director Mike Perrin was never expected to be Texas’ long-term solution, despite having the interim label pulled in December 2015. A former linebacker under legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal, Perrin was brought in for damage-control and to repair relationships that had been broken during Patterson’s tenure.

Del Conte is now the one many Texas fans and supporters expect to move the athletic department forward into a new and brighter era.

“He’s really a special person and will take our program here to even greater heights,” Perrin said.

But before his ceremonious introductory press conference Monday morning, Del Conte found himself in a moment of tranquility, saying a prayer in a suite inside Royal-Memorial Stadium.

“God, help me,” Del Conte said.

And seemingly just to hammer home the point that life was now truly different for Del Conte, he got a humorous phone call Monday morning from TCU football coach Gary Patterson.

“I love you, but I hate you today,” Patterson said to Del Conte.

Del Conte had also received a text last week from his 16-year-old daughter that stuck with him on Monday, reading it aloud for everyone inside Bellmont Hall.

“Life is all about taking risks,” the text said. “If you never take a risk, you’ll never achieve your dreams.”

The task he has ahead of him now is a monumental one. Texas’ athletic department is a large business all on its own, one with its main revenue-producer — football — struggling on the field and searching for a starved return to national prominence.

Del Conte knows what he’s getting himself into.

But he also sees the chance to fulfill a mission.

“We know when this place is rowing the boat in the same direction, there’s nothing that can stop it,” Del Conte said. “Mike (Perrin) calmed those waters and put us in a position today that it is a tsunami coming with a reckoning. My job is just to guide that.”