Kyle Smith, who has served as the head coach at Columbia University for the last six seasons, has been named head men's basketball coach at the University of San Francisco, Director of Athletics Scott Sidwell announced today.
Smith, 46, becomes the 19th head coach of one of college basketball's most storied programs that has won two NCAA championships (1955 and '56), one National Invitation Tournament title (1949) and 16 conference championships.
"Kyle Smith brings a wealth of experience from programs that have competed at a very high level," said Sidwell. "His knowledge of the profile of the type of players combined with a proven system that can compete for WCC championships makes him a perfect fit for USF. We welcome Kyle and his family to USF and look forward to partnering with him to bring USF Basketball back to national prominence."
Said University President Paul Fitzgerald, S.J.: "I am very pleased to welcome Kyle Smith as USF's new head men's basketball coach. His familiarity with the mission and values of the University and West Coast Conference will allow him to step into his leadership position quite naturally and I'm confident he will succeed in coaching the Dons to renewed greatness."
In six seasons at Columbia, Smith guided the Lions to a 101-82 overall record and two postseason appearances. The 101 victories were the most in a six-year span at Columbia since the program posted 107 victories from 1965-71. This season, Columbia finished with a 25--10 record, finished third in the Ivy League with a 10-4 mark, and captured the CollegeInsider.com Tournament with a 73-67 victory over UC Irvine in the title game. The Lions became only the second Ivy League team to win a postseason tournament after Princeton's 1975 NIT Championship.
The 25 victories established a single-season school-record while the 10 Ivy League victories were the most by a Columbia team since the 1992-93 squad also went 10-4 in the Ivy. It was Columbia's second 20-win season in three years under Smith, who also guided the Lions to a 21-13 record during the 2013-14 season.
During his last three seasons at Columbia, the Lions compiled a 59-38 (.608) overall record. The 59 wins tied Princeton for the third-highest total in the Ivy League behind Yale (64) and Harvard (63).
During his six-year tenure, Smith also developed 10 players who earned All-Ivy League honors, including Maodo Lo, a two-time All-Ivy first-team recipient who is ranks as the Lions second all-time leading scorer and holds the school-record for three-pointers made.
"I am extremely honored and thrilled at the opportunity to lead the USF basketball program and be associated with a great university in the most beautiful city in the world," said Smith. "We will work tirelessly to develop leaders on the court, in the classroom and the community who will compete for a West Coast Conference championship and add to the legacy of this great program."
The 2014-15 season saw an injury-riddled Lion team led top-ranked Kentucky for 27 minutes while holding the powerful Wildcats to a season-low 56 points. Lo emerged as one of the top point guards in the Ivy League and earned unanimous all-league honors, as well as NABC All-Region and All-Metropolitan second team accolades.
Smith guided the Lions to one of their best seasons in school history in 2013-14, as Columbia finished with a 21-13 overall record and earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, which was the Lions first postseason appearance since 1968. The 21 wins were the most since the Lions won 23 games en route to the 1967-68 Ivy League championship. The Lions also drilled a school-record 278 three-pointers and finished fourth in the nation in free throw percentage with a .755 mark. Individually, Alex Rosenberg earned first team All-Ivy League honors while Lo was a second team choice.
In 2012-13, Columbia posted home wins over eventual NCAA Tournament teams Villanova and Harvard in Levien Gymnasium.
Smith led Columbia to its second straight 15-win season in 2011-12, marking the first time the Lions accomplished that feat since 1977-78 and 1978-79 under Tom Penders. Brian Barbour earned first team All-Ivy honors and was also an all-region NABC all-region selection.
In Smith's first season in 2010-11, the Lions finished with a 15-13 record, which was the first winning season for a new Columbia head coach in 33 years. The Lions increased their scoring output by more than 10 points a game and went over the 70 point mark on 15 occasions. Guards Noruwa Agho (first team) and Barbour (honorable mention) were All-Ivy League selections, while Agho was also honored on the regional level by the NABC and the Metropolitan Writers Association.
Prior to his appointment at Columbia in May of 2010, Smith spent 18 seasons as an assistant coach on the NCAA Division I level, including nine seasons (2001-10) at Saint Mary's College, one season at Air Force (2000-01) and eight years at the University of San Diego (1992-2000).
While at Saint Mary's, he played an integral role in building the Gaels program into a perennial championship contender in the West Coast Conference. In his nine seasons in Moraga, the Gaels made three NCAA Tournament (2005, '08, '10) appearances and earned one National Invitation Tournament (2009) bid. Saint Mary's averaged 23 wins over his last six seasons on the staff, including a 81-20 record over the last three seasons. In 2009-10, Saint Mary's finished with a 28-6 record, advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship and were ranked 19th nationally in the final ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. As the associate head coach under Randy Bennett, Smith was also responsible for coordinating the team's offense and played a key role in the recruitment of all-conference players such as Matthew Dellavedova, Patty Mills, Diamon Simpson and Mickey McConnell. Mills (San Antonio) and Dellavedova (Cleveland) are currently playing in the NBA.
During his one season at Air Force, Smith served as the Falcons' offensive and recruiting coordinator and also took a lead role with player development and scouting. He was instrumental in the recruitment of 2003-04 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year Nick Welch along with all-conference players Antoine Hood and A.J. Kuhle.
Before joining the Academy, Smith served eight seasons as an assistant coach at the University of San Diego from 1992-2000 under Hank Egan and Brad Holland. During his time at San Diego, Smith helped lead the Toreros to their second-highest win total in school history (20 in 1999-2000) and as associate head coach, orchestrated a defense that allowed the lowest opponent scoring average (62.6) in the West Coast Conference (62.6 in 1999-2000).
Born in El Paso, Texas, Smith graduated in 1992 from Hamilton College with a degree in English literature. He also played basketball and helped lead the Continentals to a 26-1 record the No. 1 ranking in the nation for NCAA Division III as a junior, helping Hamilton to an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship. He also shot 51.3 percent from three-point range, which still stands as a Hamilton single-season record.
Smith also earned a master's degree in educational leadership from the University of San Diego, where he began his coaching career. Kyle and his wife, Katie, have three sons, Rocco, Bo and Luke.