ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale called out the Texas athletic department for their handling of interim coach Rodney Terry, who has yet to be made the school’s permanent head coach. Terry successful navigated the midseason firing of former coach Chris Beard while guiding the Longhorns to a No. 2 seed in the men’s NCAA tournament and trip to the Sweet 16.
“LACK OF CLASS by TEXAS ATHLETIC BOARD. I can buy waiting until the end of the regular season on the status of [Rodney Terry.] However after WINNING [the Big 12] title. HE DESERVED A MULTI YR DEAL,” Vitale tweeted on Wednesday night.
Vitale likely has a point. Given the circumstances surrounding Beard’s firing due to a domestic violence arrest, the team’s season could have fallen apart due to the distraction that the firing caused on the program. Instead, Terry kept his players focused and the Longhorns remained one of the best teams in the country throughout the rest of the season en route to earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Now, Texas prepares for a Sweet 16 tilt with No. 3 seed Xavier for a chance to reach the Elite Eight. Will that be enough for Terry to land the full-time job? Or will it take a Final Four run and beyond to make Terry the permanent coach?
In Texas’s defense, Terry is coming off an up-and-down seven year tenure at Fresno State that only led to one NCAA tournament appearance. From there, Terry coached UTEP to three mediocre seasons before resigning to take a job as an assistant for Beard.
His previous head coaching stops certainly give reason for pause, but his ability to keep this Texas team together and make an NCAA tournament run is worth considering as the athletic department evaluates the future of the Longhorns basketball program.