Shaka Smart strives for excellence in classroom for Longhorns

New Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart said he's not sure how allegations of academic misconduct will ultimately impact the program but he's focused on creating a culture of integrity in the classroom regardless.

Smart said administrators have told him that they believe Texas will avoid NCAA penalties.

"Our coaching staff is going to be very involved in making sure that our guys have a mindset towards moving forward and growing as students and as people," Smart told ESPN.com on Tuesday. "And we're two months into that. I'm not really an authority on what happened before we got here. But I can tell you how things are going to work moving forward."

Earlier this week, the University of Texas announced that it had hired an outside investigator to examine the athletic department's academics after a Chronicle of Higher Education report alleged that former Longhorns players Martez Walker, J'Covan Brown and P.J. Tucker had all received improper academic benefits under former coach Rick Barnes.

Texas' initial statement about the allegations said that the school "has no information that suggests" that Barnes "knew of or was involved in any academic improprieties."

Barnes was fired in March after 17 seasons in Austin. Athletic director Steve Patterson said the decision had "nothing to do with any academic issues." Smart was hired to replace Barnes.

Gene Marsh, the former chairman of the NCAA's infractions committee, will lead the investigation.

"I can only tell you what I represent," Smart said. "I'm about helping our guys become the best versions of themselves. A big part of that, when you're in college, is the academic side of things. I love learning and I want all of our guys to feel that way. I think everybody is really capable of gaining from the opportunities at a place like this. This is a world-class institution."

Smart's former program, VCU, received a 990 out of 1000 on its most recent multiyear Academic Progress Rate (2013-14), which was released in May. Former VCU standout Briante Weber said Smart demanded academic success from players.

"Coach Smart is big on you getting to your potential academically," Weber said. "With me, he knew I was a smart kid. He said, 'You shouldn't have anything less than honor roll.'"

Texas guard Isaiah Taylor said Smart has pushed academics in his first two months at the university.

"He's heavy on the academic part," Taylor said. "He wants us to get this degree from this college because he knows it benefits us in the future."