Rick Hart new SMU AD

SMU named Tennessee-Chattanooga athletic director Rick Hart to the same post on Monday, the school announced.

Hart, a third-generation administrator in his family, was introduced Monday to oversee SMU's transition from Conference USA into the Big East Conference and become the new boss for big-name coaches Larry Brown and June Jones.

"I know a lot of great things have happened here lately and we have some momentum," Hart said. "It's a tremendous opportunity. You only get to do this once. ... I sense from the community that there's a willingness to support this program and eagerness to support this program at levels that have been unprecedented."

Hart replaces Steve Orsini, who was fired May 17.

"In his time at Chattanooga, Rick has demonstrated a commitment to athletic and academic success, fiscal responsibility, and a focus on the student-athlete experience. I am confident that he has the skills and abilities to keep SMU Athletics moving forward as we transition to the Big East and become an even more prominent member of the college athletics landscape," SMU president R. Gerald Turner said in a statement.

Multiple reports out of Chattanooga over the weekend said Hunt was departing for SMU.

"I'm extremely proud of Rick and I'm always happy when anybody on my staff goes out and goes on to have excellent and outstanding careers," Chattanooga chancellor Roger Brown told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "But I'm also sad because he's a dear friend and he's such a great part of the Mocs family."

Hart has been the AD at Chattanooga, which competes at the FCS level in football, since 2006.

Orsini had been the AD at SMU since 2006. He was fired just four weeks after the Mustangs hired Hall of Famer Larry Brown as basketball coach.

"After several discussions over the last few weeks, it became apparent to me that it was necessary to make this change," SMU president Gerald Turner said when Orsini was let go. "While we both are committed to the support of our student-athletes and coaches, a unified effort is required for future progress in our athletics programs."

Hart will be charged with leading the SMU athletics program as it prepares for its final season in Conference USA before moving to the Big East in 2013.

SMU hadn't been to a bowl game in 25 years before 2009, Jones' second season when the Mustangs went 7-5 and then beat Nevada 45-10 in the Hawaii Bowl. The last postgame game before that had been before SMU was the only team ever given the NCAA's so-called death penalty, and had its program shut down for two seasons, 1987 and 1988.

"I'm excited for the class I have coming in. That excited me, we're only two or three weeks away from getting on the field," Jones said. `That's what kind of gets me going. ... (Hart) seems like a real good guy, and I'm looking forward to working with him."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this article.