Karen Aston spent eight seasons as the head women's basketball coach at Texas. She won 184 games and took the Longhorns to the Sweet 16 four times. Just a few years ago, she led UT to a 31-5 mark and an Elite Eight appearance.
And, yet, after going 19-11 in 2019-20, athletic director Chris Del Conte announced that the university would not be bringing Aston back for a ninth year.
The decision seemed strange to many who've looked on as the UT women have vastly outperformed Shaka Smart and the men's program — not to mention the timing of it, given the paralysis inflicted by all NCAA member institutions as a result of the coronavirus.
Guess who’s coming to the Forty...🏀🤘🏽 pic.twitter.com/hSAyjbvqTH— Chris Del Conte (@_delconte) April 5, 2020
But, as it turned out, Del Conte had one perfectly good reason for it all: Mississippi State's Vic Schaefer.
Schaefer is one of the nation's premier women's basketball coaches, having compiled 221 wins and a national title game appearance as the head coach of the Bulldogs. That he was available was unexpected.
A move from Starkville, Miss., to Austin, Texas, may feel like an obvious move to some, but Schaefer's returning squad was a expected to be a legitimate national title contender — oh, and he's a Texas A&M alum.
Still, Schaefer said on Monday that the move to UT was "a calling."
"I'm excited to be returning home to the great state of Texas, a place where I've spent 45 years of my life," he said. "For a university that has so much tradition both academically and athletically, particularly in women's basketball. My job now is to restore this program to the national prominence it once had."
Born and raised in the Lone Star State, Schaefer started his career as a boys' basketball coach in the state and assisted Gary Blair in College Station during the Aggies' 2011 National Championship season.
Johnnie Harris and South Carolina assistant Nikki McCray headline the list of potential replacements at Mississippi State.