Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte addresses Longhorns upset loss to Abilene Christian

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Texas head coach Shaka Smart watches the action during the first half of a college basketball game against Abilene Christian in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Saturday, March 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Less than a week after Abilene Christian upset Texas in the NCAA Tournament, Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte addressed the loss in this week’s edition of his Forty Acres Insider on the Longhorns’ website.

In the newsletter, Del Conte called the loss a “heartbreaker”.

“It was a tough night all the way around as our Longhorns just couldn’t find a groove, made far too many turnovers, and in the end came up one-point short, 53-52,” Del Conte said.

The loss prompted speculation about Shaka Smart’s job security, but Del Conte didn’t comment specifically on the future of the program.

In five possible tournament trips, Smart has qualified for “The Big Dance” three times. In 2020, Texas was a bubble team before the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, Smart is 108-86 at Texas.

Despite putting together the best season in his time at Texas, including a win at the relocated Maui Classic in Asheville, N.C., a top-10 final ranking in the AP Poll and the program’s first Big 12 Tournament championship, Saturday’s loss dropped Smart’s record at Texas to 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament.

Del Conte acknowledged all of those accomplishments, and ended with a simple message looking ahead.

“It was not how any of us wanted it to end and was so abruptly and truly devastating for us all, but like all competitors and those of us in athletics do, we must pick ourselves up off the mat, dust off and get back to work,” Del Conte wrote.

Smart has two years and $7.1 million remaining on his contract.

Possible roster overhaul

The Big 12 Tournament champions may go through a major roster change next season.

Sophomore Kai Jones declared for the NBA Draft Wednesday. Royce Hamm and Donovan Williams entered the NCAA transfer portal Tuesday.

Seniors Matt Coleman and Jericho Sims appear to have played their last games as Longhorns. Redshirt junior Andrew Jones and freshman Greg Brown could choose to declare for the NBA draft. Both Brown and Kai Jones have been projected as first round NBA draft picks. Under the NCAA rules during the COVID-19 pandemic, all players can return next season for another year of eligibility.

Westlake product Will Baker and San Antonio native Gerald Liddell announced their plans to transfer from Texas during the 2020-21 season.

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