Shaka Smart named head coach of men’s basketball program

Shaka Smart has been named the 18th head coach of the Marquette University men’s basketball program, Vice President and Director of Athletics Bill Scholl announced on Friday.

The university will hold a press conference on Monday, March 29, at 2 p.m. at the Al McGuire Center, 770 N. 12th St., to formally introduce Smart to the Marquette community. In accordance with the university’s COVID-19 protocols, there will be limited attendance and socially distanced seating will be utilized. The press conference will also be streamed live on

In 12 seasons as a head coach at Virginia Commonwealth (2009-15) and Texas (2015-21), Smart guided the two programs to a total of eight NCAA Tournament appearances. Those trips were highlighted by a run from the First Four to the Final Four by VCU in 2011.

“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to welcome Shaka, his wife Maya, and their daughter Zora to the Marquette and Milwaukee communities,” Scholl said. “We undertook an exhaustive national search, during which we discussed our opening with a significant number of highly-qualified coaches. The interest in our position was tremendous and the market certainly understands what a wonderful place Marquette is to coach college basketball.”

“Throughout the search, one individual continued to rise to the top and that was Shaka,” Scholl added. “I am beyond excited for our current and future student-athletes who will have the great fortune of being mentored by Shaka. He is a great teacher of the game, while also being a great molder of young men. And I am proud to say, he is now a Marquette Golden Eagle!”

The 43-year-old Smart owns an overall record of 272-142 (.657) and seven of his first 10 teams played in the NCAA tournament. He posted a record of 163-56 (.744) at VCU and five trips to the NCAA. While at Texas, the Longhorns were 109-86 (.559) and made NCAA appearances in 2016, 2018 and 2021. Texas claimed the National Invitation Tournament title in 2019.

“I am so excited for Shaka to lead our celebrated men’s basketball program, and I look forward to supporting him for many successful seasons as a Golden Eagle,” said Marquette University President Michael R. Lovell. “Shaka will be the first person of color to lead our program, and is a true role model for our student-athletes. I’ve had several conversations with Shaka in the past few days and I know he will be a results-focused coach and recruiter, and also a strong advocate for our Catholic, Jesuit mission. What has impressed me most is that he is interested in being a leader beyond basketball. Shaka is a Wisconsin native and both he and his wife Maya want to make a positive impact on our Marquette and Milwaukee communities.”

In 2020-21, Texas finished with an overall record of 19-8, including an 11-6 mark in the Big 12 Conference. The Longhorns were ranked as high as fourth in the country and claimed the Big 12 Championship with a win over Oklahoma State. The team claimed the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the victory and was seeded third in the East Region.

“Maya, Zora and I are absolutely thrilled to join the Marquette family,” Smart said. “I’m grateful to President Lovell and Bill Scholl for entrusting me with the growth and development of this storied basketball program and the student-athletes who make it so special. I am extremely excited to get to Milwaukee to begin building relationships and getting to work on the court!”