CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Kirby Hocutt resigned as Miami's athletic director to take the same job at Texas Tech, barely two months after hiring a new football coach and speaking about his desire to see the Hurricanes chase national prominence in all sports.
Hocutt told Miami officials of the decision Friday. University President Donna Shalala announced the move in a one-paragraph statement, doing so even before Texas Tech officials or Hocutt himself chose to make the decision public.
"I am deeply disappointed," Shalala said.
Texas Tech later said shortly after Shalala released her statement that it has an "agreement in principle" with Hocutt, noting that some small details still need to be worked out. At Texas Tech, he'll replace the retiring Gerald Myers.
Hocutt, 38, was at Miami for 2½ years, and has been considered one of the rising administrators in college athletics. He was selected last year as part of the "40 Under 40" top sports executives by SportsBusiness Journal.
"We are excited about the future of our athletics program and look forward to his leadership," Texas Tech President Dr. Guy Bailey said in a release. "This is a great day for Texas Tech athletics."
For Hocutt, it's a chance to return to his roots.
He's a Texas native, still has family there, worked at Oklahoma and played college football at Kansas State — both conference rivals of the Red Raiders. He was approached by officials from Kansas to discuss their athletic director opening several weeks ago, turning down those overtures.
On Feb. 12, Hocutt told The Associated Press that he was "not a candidate" at Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders persisted, and eventually, things changed.
"As a former student-athlete and administrator, I am very familiar with the Big 12 Conference and look forward to returning to my home state of Texas," Hocutt said in a statement released by Texas Tech.
Texas Tech formally presented Hocutt an offer earlier this week. Hocutt flew back to South Florida on Thursday, and told some staff of his decision — which he said to have anguished over — on Friday.
"We did everything we could to convince him to stay, but in the end it was an intensely personal decision," Shalala said. "I thank Kirby for his integrity, leadership, and dedication to the university."
Shalala's statement did not discuss how the Hurricanes will search for a new athletic director, specify if an interim will be chosen or how long the university expects to spend on that process.
However, some names are circulating as possible candidates for the job, including Florida Atlantic's Craig Angelos and Western Kentucky's Ross Bjork, who was Miami's Associate Athletic Director for External Operations from 2003 through 2005.
Shalala said Hocutt had "a very successful tenure," but the move comes at a curious time for Miami.
Hocutt made the decision in late November to fire football coach Randy Shannon, then led the search that resulted in the hiring two weeks later of Al Golden — who will ultimately report to someone else before he coaches his first game for the Hurricanes. Hocutt also said this month that men's basketball coach Frank Haith was safe for the 2011-12 season.
Haith would be owed $3 million for the final two years of his deal, and for a private university without deep athletic pockets like Miami, that's a colossal sum — especially on top of the money Shannon is owed for the final four years of his now-ended contract.
Hocutt also helped secure the largest gift in Miami's athletic history late last year, a $5 million donation from the Ted & Todd Schwartz Family Foundation to help provide a new academic center for members of Hurricane sports teams, a larger sports medicine facility, a new football locker room and a gallery of champions.
Texas Tech has not said when Hocutt will be formally introduced.