LOGAN – Craig Smith is trading in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum for the Huntsman Center, 88 miles south at the University of Utah. Saturday morning multiple outlets on social media were reporting that Smith would be leaving Utah State for the Utes, and by 10 a.m. it was confirmed and announced by University of Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan.
Smith had been a rumored target of multiple job openings at larger basketball institutions, notably the University of Minnesota, Marquette and the University of Utah.
After the University of Utah fired Larry Krystkowiak on March 16, the Utes targeted former player and current Utah Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen. Then former player and current New York Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant was rumored to be highly interested in the opening, but he remains on the Knicks staff. After neither of those options panned out, Utah turned its attention toward Cache Valley.
“My family and I are thrilled to join the University of Utah and the community of Salt Lake City,” Smith said in a release issued from the University of Utah. “The Utah men’s basketball program has fantastic leadership at the top in Director of Athletics Mark Harlan and his executive team. After visiting with Mark, it became clear that our visions for Utah Basketball were aligned. This program has a rich tradition of excellence in the history of college basketball. Our facilities are state-of-the-art and first-class in every way. Our fan base has tremendous energy, knowledge and passion. We can’t wait to pack the Huntsman Center, feed off the energy of The MUSS and bring a consistent winner back to the U!”
“I would like to thank Craig and his family for their significant contributions to Utah State University,” said USU Director of Athletics John Hartwell in a statement Saturday, acknowledging Smith’s resignation as the Aggie mens’ basketball coach. “Craig and his staff did an outstanding job making Aggie men’s basketball a nationally recognized program. We have a tremendous nucleus of student-athletes returning to our program that have helped create a culture of winning and we want to make sure we keep them our priority as we continue to strengthen that culture moving forward.”
Under Smith’s direction, the Aggies qualified for the NCAA tournament in each of his three years in Logan, winning the Mountain West Conference tournament twice and receiving an at-large invitation this year. Smith complied a 74-23 overall record (42-13 in conference play) in Logan. Before coming to USU he spent four seasons at South Dakota, compiling a in 79-55 record.
Hartwell said a national search for USU’s next head coach has already begun.
“This is an extremely attractive job and we have already had tremendous interest from some very good coaches. We will move as quickly and efficiently as we can with this search, but we want to make sure we have the right person to build upon our success of qualifying for each of the last three NCAA Tournaments and winning two of the last three Mountain West Tournament championships.”