AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Rodney Terry era of Texas Longhorns men’s basketball has officially begun.

Terry was formally introduced as the permanent head coach of the program Tuesday after taking over in December in an interim role following Chris Beard’s suspension and eventual firing. Terry signed his contract, reportedly a 5-year deal worth $3 million annually, Monday. Coincidentally, Monday was also his 55th birthday.

Terry helped lead the Longhorns to 29 wins this season, third-most in school history, and to the school’s first Elite Eight appearance since 2008. Terry was previously a head coach at Fresno State and UTEP before he came back to Austin as the associate head coach with Beard before last season. Terry was an assistant at Texas under Rick Barnes from 2002-11.

With the entire team in the audience, plus former players, coaches and administrators, Terry entered the Centennial Room to a chorus of cheers and a standing ovation.

“It’s a great day to be a Longhorn!” Terry exclaimed as he took the podium. “God puts you right where you’re supposed to be. Today marks a journey, a new and exciting chapter in a 20-plus-year relationship I’ve had on the Forty Acres. I came here as an assistant with Rick Barnes and we had an incredible run. We won at a very high level, but I was one of those guys who aspired to be an elite high-major coach, and I’m getting a chance to live that out at the University of Texas.”

Terry told a story about how he bought a house in Austin while he was still the head coach at UTEP, knowing someday that he’d be back in Austin whether he was a coach at the university or not.

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“I bought a home not even knowing I’d have an opportunity to be part of the university again,” Terry said. “I wanted to be around it, but I didn’t know that I’d have a chance to be part of it again. I love this city and this community. No matter where my journey took me, I knew I wanted to be back.”

Chris Del Conte, UT’s director of athletics, said he knew Terry was the right guy for the job all along, but he needed Terry to “go out and earn it.”

He said he was talking with Kevin Eltife, the chairman of the University of Texas System, and Eltife and Del Conte both agreed that Terry “is our guy.” That was on Dec. 13, the day after Terry coached the Longhorns to an overtime win over Rice and the day after Terry was named the acting head coach.

“We didn’t want to make the decision until the end of the year,” Del Conte said. “I wanted to wait and watch what he does. I needed each and every one of us to know he was the right man.”

Addressing Terry, Del Conte said, “we are here today because the whistle was given to you on Dec. 12, but you took that whistle and you earned it, and a reckoning is coming because of you.”

Terry hopes to keep his current staff together as best he can because of the chemistry they built not just before he took over, but also after.

“I hope the whole staff is back and we go on another run and do this again,” Terry said. “It was an incredible staff to work with.”

He also said he’d love to have as many players back as possible, but he knows there’s some finessing within the program to get some guys to stick around. The current players are “the nucleus,” of the program he said, and then that leads to welcoming new recruits, specifically Duncanville star forward Ron Holland and AJ Johnson, another top-25 recruit from southern California.

At media day Monday for the McDonald’s All-American Game in Houston, Holland confirmed his commitment to Texas and said he was happy to hear that Terry was given the full-time gig.

“His guys trust him,” Holland said. “He makes sure his guys are good on and off the court and he teaches life lessons you’ll carry with you. He really cares about his players and he’s not going to give up, that makes him a player’s coach.”

While the team fell short of its ultimate goal of playing for the national championship, scheduled for Monday night at NRG Stadium in Houston, Terry said he’s going to get the team back in the national spotlight on a regular basis.

“We’re going to be a Monday night program, and we’re going to get there sooner than you think. Hook ’em,” Terry said.