RICHMOND, VA (April 4, 2011) – Virginia Commonwealth University officials announced today that head men's basketball coach Shaka Smart has agreed to an eight-year contract.

The agreement comes on the heels of VCU's historic appearance in the Final Four of the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

"Coach Smart's contributions to the university are unquantifiable," said VCU President Michael Rao. "His character, intelligence and pursuit of excellence embody VCU's core values."

Shaka Smart's leadership has forever raised awareness of VCU as the major public research university that it is," Rao said.

Terms will be released when the contract is fully executed.  VCU Director of Athletics Norwood Teague said they indicate Coach Smart's commitment to VCU.

"True to form, Coach Smart's primary concerns were about his players, coaches and the overall support of the basketball program," Teague said. "We are honored that he has decided to stay a VCU Ram. He embodies everything that is right about college athletics, and VCU is ecstatic about the future under his leadership."

At the age of 33, Smart is among the 10 youngest head coaches at the Division I level and has guided the Black & Gold to 55 wins over the past two seasons. That is the highest win total over any two-year span in VCU history.

 "I'm extremely grateful for the belief that Dr. Rao and Norwood Teague have shown and continue to show in our coaching staff and basketball program," Smart said. "Their support, in addition to the bright future that our student-athletes possess, make VCU a very special place for me to be the head basketball coach. I'm very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for both our program and our university."

The Rams became only the third 11-seed in NCAA Tournament history to reach the Final Four with wins over USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas. It was the first year that any VCU squad had won more than one game in the NCAA Tournament.

Prior to VCU, Smart was an assistant to Florida head coach Billy Donovan. He also was an assistant coach at Clemson, Akron, and California University of Pennsylvania.

Smart played college basketball at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio where he graduated magna cum laude with a history degree.  He also earned a master's degree in social science from California University of Pennsylvania.