AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A person with knowledge of the decision says Tulsa assistant Sterlin Gilbert has agreed to join Texas as the Longhorns' offensive coordinator after a personal plea from Texas President Greg Fenves.
Details of the agreement weren't immediately available. The deal was struck in a Friday night meeting between Fenves, Texas coach Charlie Strong and Texas Athletic Director Mike Perrin in Tulsa, according to the person who spoke on condition of anonymity because there was no official announcement.
The Texas entourage flew to meet Gilbert on Friday night after he turned down an offer from Texas earlier in the day.
Video footage showed Gilbert meeting the Longhorns' entourage outside of a Tulsa home. The deal was expected deal to be formally signed at a later date and may need approval from the school's board of regents. Gilbert was expected in Austin sometime Saturday.
The full-court press to get Gilbert was a surprise escalation of the stakes at a Texas program that went 5-7 and has struggled through consecutive losing seasons. The school made an extraordinary effort to land a coach who wasn't even Strong's first choice to revive one of the Big 12's worst offenses.
And it was a remarkable personal appeal by Fenves, who has strongly supported Strong despite the losing seasons. When reports surfaced earlier in the day that Gilbert had turned down a Texas offer, angry fans worried about damage to the program's image blamed the administration as well as Strong.
Fenves tweeted a message of strong support for the head coach, then boarded the plane with Perrin and Strong to help Strong get his man. Perrin, who was initially brought on as interim athletic director in September and given the permanent job earlier this month, also has stated full support for Strong.
The Friday night effort was just the latest move in a whirlwind week for the president, who on Wednesday was the U.S. Supreme Court to attend oral arguments in a landmark affirmative action case involving Texas and the school's admissions process.
The urgent meeting to snare Gilbert could be a risky move for both Strong and Fenves. Strong is widely considered to be under pressure to win in 2016 or be fired and Gilbert will be seen as the lynchpin to success or failure.
Strong is in the third year of a 5-year contract that pays him more than $5 million per year.
And Fenves has stuck his neck out for Strong and potentially risked political capital at a school where his predecessor was forced out by a Board or Regents that includes members who secretly tried to lure Nick Saban from Alabama two years ago.
Gilbert is the co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa but isn't the lead play caller and just four years ago was coaching high school Texas. Tulsa (6-6) faces Virginia Tech (6-6) in the Dec. 26 Independence Bowl.
Strong initially interviewed TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who turned down an offer this week. On Friday, multiple reports had Gilbert initially ready to accept the job, only to reverse course and stay with the Golden Hurricane. The reason for his change of heart were unclear Friday night.
The struggles to hire a top assistant have raised questions and anxiety among Texas fans about their program's stature within the Big 12 and nationally.
Since playing for the national title after the 2009 season, Texas is 41-35. Strong is 11-14 in two seasons.