The Rodney Terry Era is Over; Texas Hires Ex-UTEP Coach as Assistant
The Rodney Terry era at UTEP is over after three seasons. The Miners head coach took a position at the University of Texas as an assistant coach to work under new head coach Chris Beard, as first reported by 24/7 Sports' Chip Brown on Tuesday.
Rumors started to spill late last week on Terry’s move to Texas, but the chatter was hushed over the Easter weekend. The news was released Tuesday.
The dominos started to fall as soon as word of Beard's hiring at Texas went public. On Thursday, UT Arlington head coach Chris Ogden took a job as an assistant coach under Beard. Texas Tech assistant coach Ulric Maligi is joining Beard at Texas too, Pete Thames of Yahoo Sports reported. The rumors that Terry would be leaving UTEP for Austin started to heat up on social media Thursday afternoon, but they cooled off Friday morning. A source close to the situation told 600 ESPN El Paso that Terry met with UTEP Director of Athletics Jim Senter on Friday for lunch, but no news was made public afterward, leaving some to believe he was staying put at UTEP.
Tuesday’s news confirmed Terry’s sudden departure, leaving the program to search for their 20th coach in program history.
Terry was an assistant under previous Texas coach Rick Barnes from 2002-11. Before Terry coached with the Horns, Beard served as a Graduate Assistant from 1991-95. During the time Terry was at Texas, Beard was the associate head coach at Texas Tech (2001-11). Beard went on and experienced coaching stints with the South Carolina Warriors, McMurry, Angelo State and Little Rock before ending up at Texas Tech in 2016. Terry took the Fresno State head coaching job in 2011 before accepting the UTEP job in 2018.
Terry has coached at the Division I level for 10 years and has a 163-156 (.511) overall record. He finished his UTEP tenure with a 37-48 overall record (.435) including a 19-33 record in C-USA. Their 12-12 (8-8 C-USA) record in 2020-21 was the best season under Terry, compared to going 8-10 (9th C-USA) in 2019-20. Comparatively speaking, Terry’s .435 winning percentage ranks 9th all-time among UTEP coaches, right behind Billy Gillispie (.484, 2003-04) and one ahead of Charles Finley (.435, 1945).
Following their opening game exit in the C-USA Tournament, Terry felt strong about trying to keep the team’s nucleus intact for the following season.
"If you told me that in a perfect world that I was able to bring everyone back and add a couple pieces, man I like my chances," he told Voice of the Miners Jon Teicher following the 76-70 loss to Florida Atlantic. "We’ve got to get back in and try to retain as much of our team as we can. We have a talented group."
Over the past two weeks, four Miners entered the transfer portal—most notably, starting forward Tydus Verhoeven and former All C-USA freshman Efe Odigie. There were whispers that other players would soon be entering the portal, and that could still be the case with the Miners looking for a new head coach. Senior Bryson Williams was also weighing his options for next season, which include entering the NBA Draft, playing overseas, or returning for his final season of college eligibility. If Williams was to return to college, there was a strong possibility that it would be at UTEP if Terry was staying on as head coach. Now, he could potentially transfer to Texas as a graduate or any other school that is interested.
For Terry, he will join a force of a coaching staff at Texas and he will likely be used as Beard’s top recruiting coach because of his deep connections in the state. When he was at Texas under Barnes, Terry was known to be responsible for recruiting T.J. Ford, D.J Augustin LaMarcus Aldridge and Tristan Thompson. Texas’ recruiting was No. 1 in the nation in 2004, and third in 2006 and 2009.
The program will now need to find its next head coach to try and restore the program. Athletic Director Jim Senter had previously given Terry an extension back in October 2020 that would make him the UTEP coach through 2024. Instead, the athletic department is tasked to find his next successor as the Miners try and get back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010, and win their first tourney game since 1992. Per Terry’s contract with UTEP, he has a $500,000 buyout, which the program will receive from Texas.
“We would like to thank Coach Terry and his staff for the work they have put in to build our program over the last three years,” Senter said in a release. “We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
“We will begin a national search for our next basketball coach. Plans to utilize a search firm have not been determined. In order to preserve the integrity of the search, we will not be making any additional comments until we have hired a new coach. We look forward to beginning a new chapter in our basketball program’s storied legacy.” - Jim Senter, Director of Athletics