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Chris Del Conte discusses going out with a bang and 'embracing the hate' in Texas’ final year in Big 12

Steve Habelby:Steve Habel07/11/23


Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte wants the Longhorns to go out with a bang in its last year in the Big 12 Conference and has put the university’s various programs in prime shape to accomplish that goal.

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In a video interview with Inside Texas’ Bobby Burton on Monday, Del Conte said “20 for 20” is the goal for conference titles as the Longhorns look to make a final statement in the Big 12 before moving to the Southeastern Conference in July 2024.

Del Conte and his Texas coaches just completed a week together in their annual head coaches retreat, where the department’s 20 coaches review the past season’s successes and challenges and exchange ideas on how their teams can be even better. 

The Longhorns won or shared a dozen Big 12 championships in 2022-23 and captured national titles in volleyball and women’s outdoor track and field.

“We know this is our last year the Big 12 and we’re doing everything we can focus our attention on this year,” Del Conte said. “Because all the hoopla of where we’re going is great, but that’s in 2024.

“One of the things we talked about is ‘embracing the hate’ (that’s coming) for us this last year in the Big 12. Our goal is to win a conference championship in every sport that we participate in and win a national championship in every sport we participate. That’s always gonna be the goal here. It’s realistic at the University of Texas, but that’s our goal. We want to exit in a classy way at the same time to participate at the highest level.”

Del Conte said that he emphasized to his coaches during the retreat that 2024 is still a season away and that there was still plenty to be accomplished in the Big 12 this year.

“We’ve still got 2023 to go – it’s like everyone forgot we have a year this year,” he explained. “I’m like, ‘that is next year. We need to focus right here across the board’ because every one of our coaches are just itching to get in the Southeastern Conference yet they all know the task at hand. 

“We gotta go out with a bang. As I told (Texas football coach) Steve (Sarkisian) – last year of the Southwest Conference, we won; first year in the Big 12, we won. We want to go do it again. Come on, it’s been too long.”

Del Conte said the Longhorns had arguably had a better overall athletic year in 2022-23 that the previous year, when it won 13 conference titles and the second of back-to-back Directors’ Cups for overall department success.

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“When I sit down with our coaches on one-on-one meetings, we talk about what they need to be successful,” Del Conte said. “Our goal and our job is to give them all the tools necessary. Success is when you graduate your student-athletes and win national championships.

“We win back-to back Directors’ Cups and finished second this year. If a geese doesn’t hit a rowing boat, or that ball doesn’t get dropped in baseball, or we finished one spot higher men’s golf, we’re right there – we win it again. So we’re so close to being our goal. 

“Our goal here is that every one of our sports needs to be the top five in the country. That means you have a chance to win a national championship and you win Directors’ Cups. With 20 sports we dang near got to be perfect when Stanford has 36 and Ohio State has 36 sports. When we’re 20, we got to be damn-near perfect. And this past year all 20 of our sports were in postseason play.”

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