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Texas hires TCU AD Chris Del Conte

TCU athletics director Chris Del Conte is leaving to accept the same job at Texas, the school has announced. Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman was the first to report the news.

UT president Greg Fenves made the announcement in a letter to university stakeholders on the school's website:

Many Longhorns see Texas Athletics as a “front door” to the university — an entry point that draws thousands to campus, connects students, alumni and fans to one another, and brings out Longhorn pride. Our student-athletes embody UT’s values on the field, and our coaches represent us to the world as they improve the lives of countless players.

So it is essential that the Athletics Department be guided by a strategic, forward-thinking leader who supports students, elevates the university and strengthens the Longhorn Nation’s ties to the Forty Acres. I am delighted to announce that I have found just that person in Chris Del Conte.

Chris will begin this week as UT’s vice president and athletics director. I will introduce him at a news conference on campus Monday.

Del Conte has been at TCU since 2009 and was instrumental in securing TCU's membership in the Big 12. That story famously hinges on Del Conte winning the approval of then-Texas AD and de facto Big 12 commissioner DeLoss Dodds. Del Conte told the story to CBS Sports in 2014:

“I get up at 8 o’clock in the morning and drive to Darrell K. Royal Stadium. I get to [Dodds’] office. Nine comes around, 10 comes around. I’ve got a GA [graduate assistant] outside waiting for me, by the way. I tell him, ‘Just wait 10 minutes I’ll be back.’ Pretty soon it’s 3:30.

“[DeLoss] comes out and says, ‘Who are you?’ Chris Del Conte, Texas Christian U. He doesn’t hear ‘Chris.’ he hears ‘Del’. ‘Del, let’s go get ourselves a drink and discuss it.’

“We went to a restaurant and had a little libation at 3:30. By the time 8:30 rolls around, we were [into it] pretty good but we got ourselves in a situation. I kept trying to give him my [binders]. He said, ‘I’ve heard enough, Del’ and just walked away.”

The Big 12 ADs had a conference call the next day.

“The next morning I got up. Joe [Castiglione] goes, ‘I don’t know what you did but it worked.’ We got the vote. The Frogs are in,’ Del Conte said.

Though he did not hire football coach Gary Patterson or baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle, Del Conte has piloted TCU to own the best major-sports athletics department in Texas. The football team sits at 10-3 at No. 13 in the latest AP poll. The baseball team has reached the College World Series four years in a row. And the basketball team -- once an anchor on the athletics department -- is now ranked No. 20 in the AP poll thanks to a Del Conte hire in head coach Jamie Dixon.

Though he does not have a major football hire on his resume, Del Conte does have major bona fides thanks to the Big 12 move and his role in the complete rebuild of Amon Carter Stadium, which was financed without any debt thanks in large part to selling six "Founders Suites" at $15 million a pop, a concept Texas A&M copied in its Kyle Field rebuild.

Del Conte replaces Mike Perrin, who has been on the job on an long-term interim basis after Steve Patterson was fired in September 2015 after just 18 months on the job.

At Texas, he'll be expected to oversee the construction of the new, on-campus basketball arena, lock arms with Tom Herman in the ongoing rebuild of the football program while also piloting the athletics department -- and indeed the entire university -- through its coming realignment saga when the Big 12 grant of rights contract expires in the middle of the next decade.

Straight cash homey.

For reference, Arkansas hired Hunter Yurachek earlier this week, giving him a 5 year deal at $850,000 per year.

As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.