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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Jeremiah Donati was named TCU's athletic director just two days after his former boss, Chris Del Conte, took the same job with the Texas Longhorns.
As Donati was introduced on Monday, he saved Del Conte for last on the list of people he thanked, and he left no doubt about his respect for his predecessor.
"Chris brought me here to TCU and made me a Horned Frog," Donati said Monday, the same day Del Conte was introduced in Austin. "He believed in me, he challenged me, he trusted me, he made me better. He was and is an unbelievable friend to me. I personally look forward to seeing him down the road."
That shouldn't be a problem, since they're both still in the Big 12 — the Power Five league the Horned Frogs joined during Del Conte's tenure. Del Conte hired Donati to run the fundraising TCU Frog Club in 2011 before Donati was promoted twice, most recently to deputy athletic director last year.
The 40-year-old Donati inherits a program that has been a Big 12 championship contender under longtime football coach Gary Patterson and is coming off an NIT title in the first season under men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon, Del Conte's most significant hire.
The school's two most successful high-profile coaches were already in place when Del Conte was hired in 2009 — Patterson and baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle, who has taken the Horned Frogs to four straight College World Series but is still looking for his first national championship.
Del Conte made his biggest mark off the field, though, with facilities upgrades that helped make TCU more attractive to the Big 12 when it lost four schools and added West Virginia along with the Frogs going into the 2012 football season.
"I'm forever indebted to Chris," Donati said. "He really opened the door for me to show me different sides within the athletic department even outside my own role to one day prepare me hopefully for something like that at TCU or another place."
TCU has been through $300 million in donor-funded construction projects, highlighted by a $164 million makeover of Amon Carter Stadium and a $72 million renovation of the basketball arena. Donati said his top priority was a $100 million upgrade to the east side of the football stadium that is still in the planning stages.
Before joining TCU, Donati worked for prominent football agent Leigh Steinberg as general counsel and director of player representation. He also had fundraising roles at Arizona, Washington State and Cal Poly.
"His tremendous experience, his stellar work ethic and his sense of Horned Frog pride will be instrumental in assuring continued success of our athletics programs," TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini said. "I'm excited to see what we can achieve under his leadership."
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