Six years after leaving her post as recruiting coordinator at Texas, Karen Aston has rejoined the Longhorns, this time as their head coach.
Aston, who is just the fourth head coach in program history, was introduced in a press conference at the Denton A. Cooley Pavilion on Tuesday morning. Although the full details of the contract have yet to be released, it will be a five-year agreement that includes extension language.
“I’m thrilled to be back,” Aston said. “It’s great to be back at Texas and have the opportunity to coach these young women.”
Aston served under Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame head coach Jody Conradt as an assistant at Texas from 1998-2006. During their eight years together, the two led the Longhorns to seven tournament appearances, including a Final Four appearance in 2003.
“Aside from my high school coach, the biggest influence in my life as a basketball coach has been Jody Conradt,” Aston said. “She made a tremendous difference in my life. I didn’t know that until I left Texas. There is nobody that bleeds orange like she does. If I can do anything even close to what Jody did as far as building tradition here at Texas, then I’ll do my job well.”
During her first stint with the Longhorns and throughout her coaching career, Aston has been known for her energetic coaching style and her relentlessness on the recruiting trail.
Over the course of her time as recruiting coordinator at Texas, the Longhorns brought in several high school McDonald’s All-Americans, including Tiffany Jackson and Erika Arriaran, both of whom were ranked first in the country in their respective recruiting classes.
Women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky and the Texas fan base will both be expecting more of the same this time around.
Aston knows the importance of recruiting in the Big 12 and stressed the need for the Longhorns to reestablish themselves as a recruiting power in the state of Texas.
“I’m excited about the opportunity for me and for Texas to reconnect,” Aston said. “But I will say that it’s amazing once you’ve been in Texas and you’ve developed the relationships, the roots are here. High school coaches, they don’t leave Texas. So they’re still there. I’m still very connected with everyone across the state.”
Since leaving the Longhorns, Aston has coached in the state of Texas as an assistant under Kim Mulkey at Baylor in 2006-2007 and as the head coach at North Texas last season. She spent four years out of state as the head coach at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in between.
As for Aston’s energy and intensity, the players have already been impressed. Aston met with the team for the first time on Monday night and, according to Plonsky, the players were very excited about the team’s new leadership.
“They were fired up and they were cheery,” Plonsky said. “I was not in the players’ meeting last night but I introduced her to them. I sat in the coaches’ office next door, and when they came out, the kids were amazingly connected.”