Rick Hart hired as new athletic director at SMU

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Amidst a period of transition at SMU, not only within the basketball program, but within the athletic program as a whole, there will be a new athletic director in University Park, Texas.

Former Chattanooga athletic director Rick Hart has been hired to take the same position at SMU, the school announced Monday.

In calling the current situation a “historic time for the campus,” Hart thanked staff and administrators in a statement.

“President Turner’s vision for excellence is inspiring, and we look forward to partnering with the faculty, alumni, fans and donors as we seek to establish a model athletics program,” he said in the release. “Together, we will accelerate SMU’s rise to national prominence as we prepare for the transition to the BIG EAST Conference.”

Hart has spent the last six seasons at Chattanooga and inherits a basketball program that is entering its first season under head coach Larry Brown.

“With our basketball program under Larry Brown…we think there will be more excitement, and obviously, this will be the last year in, quote, the old Moody, and there is just every reason for people to check us out again,” Hart said. “We just have to be able to sell people on the fact that the collegiate is different in kind, and certainly the quality of it can be great as compared to a pro experience.”

Arizona transfer Josiah Turner, who had committed to SMU after leaving Arizona, recently announced that he was going pro, ending the Turner project in Texas before it began.

Brown will be bringing in Illinois transfer Crandall Head, who will be eligible after he sits out the 2012-13 season in compliance with NCAA bylaw.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_