Del Conte, who will start on Monday, will replace Mike Perrin, who took over on an interim basis in 2015 after Steve Patterson was fired.
While Perrin had never been viewed as a long-term athletic director, Texas had made no hint it was looking to replace him before his employment agreement expired in late 2018. Texas said Perrin will stay on as an adviser for Del Conte.
"Mike has been a trusted partner and friend and will forever have my gratitude and the gratitude of Longhorn Nation," Texas president Greg Fenves said.
"Chris has the experience, vision and character that's needed for Texas to build on the Longhorns' rich legacy and to continue winning with integrity for years to come. He knows the state of Texas, supports student-athletes, understands the media landscape of college sports, and is one of the best athletics directors in the country," Fenves said.
A person with knowledge of Del Conte's contract told The Associated Press he has a seven-year deal with an annual salary starting at $1.3 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school was not yet ready to publicly release contract details. The contract must still be approved by the Texas board of regents
In 2009, Del Conte took over at TCU and oversaw the Horned Frogs' transition into the Big 12 Conference three years later.
Del Conte also oversaw multiple facility upgrades, including the $164 million reconstruction of Amon G. Carter Stadium.
TCU also recently completed a $72 million renovation of its football facility. Del Conte previously was the athletic director at Rice before arriving at TCU.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.