AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas fired track coach Mario Sategna on Thursday after five years and multiple Big 12 championships, with new athletic director Chris Del Conte saying the program needs a new direction.
Sategna took over the program in 2013 after Texas dismissed former coach Bev Kearney following revelations she had a relationship with a student-athlete a decade earlier. Sategna took a personal leave in late 2016, followed by an administrative leave while he was under a school ethics and misconduct investigation.
Sategna was allowed to return to the program in early 2017, with no explanation of what Texas was investigating. At the time, then-men’s athletic director Mike Perrin and women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky said in a joint statement that all the school’s concerns had been addressed, but Sategna must meet “appropriate responsive measures” in the future.
The school has previously said the investigation didn’t involve NCAA compliance or gender discrimination issues.
When he returned to Texas, Sategna said he had needed time for “self-improvement” and was grateful to come back. Texas won its third consecutive men’s Big 12 outdoor title a few months later.
The women’s teams also swept the Big 12 indoor and outdoor championship in 2014, and Texas won both the men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor league titles in 2015.
Del Conte, who has been on the job about two months, said a change was needed. Satenga, a former assistant coach, has spent 15 years with the Texas program.
“After discussing the future of our track and field program, I felt it was best to move forward and head in a new direction at this time,” Del Conte said in a statement released by the school. A spokesman said Del Conte would have no further comment. Associate head coach Tonja Buford-Bailey will serve as interim head coach.
Sategna is also a prominent coach in international track and field. He was an assistant throwing coach with the U.S. track team at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where former Longhorns Ryan Crouser and Michelle Carter each won gold in the shot put. He was the USA men’s head coach at the 2017 world championships in London.
Sategna’s attorney, Butch Hayes, who represented Sategna through the misconduct probe, declined immediate comment Thursday. Texas is currently fighting a sex and race discrimination lawsuit filed by Kearney after she was fired.