Utah State is targeting South Dakota coach Craig Smith for the school’s men’s basketball coaching vacancy and an announcement is expected soon, ESPN and NBC Sports reported Saturday.
USU athletic director John Hartwell traveled to the Midwest this week to conduct a series of interviews at a central location, The Tribune previously reported. The potential hiring of Smith plays into that timetable and geography in Hartwell’s search to replace Tim Duryea, who was fired March 11 after three seasons.
Smith was seen in Logan on Sunday, dining with Hartwell and other USU figures. He was said to have told Hartwell that he wouldn’t accept the job prior to visiting the campus.
Smith, 45, has posted a 79-55 record in four seasons at South Dakota, winning a Summit League regular-season championship in 2016-17. The Coyotes went 26-9 (11-3 conference play) this season, losing to South Dakota State in the Summit League tournament championship game. South Dakota then fell to North Texas in the College Basketball Invitational.
A graduate of North Dakota, Smith went 72-29 in three seasons at Mayville State in North Dakota after taking over a 1-25 program at the NAIA level.
Smith worked in the Mountain West as an assistant to Tim Miles at Colorado State and followed Miles to Nebraska before becoming South Dakota’s coach.
In January, the Omaha World-Herald credited Smith with building “one of the nation’s best mid-major programs” at USD, noting the Coyotes’ narrow losses at TCU (76-71) and UCLA (85-82) this season.
After a regular-season win over South Dakota State, Smith went into the student section and “shook hands with about half the campus,” the World-Herald story said.
Hiring a coach who would stir interest in USU’s program among students and patrons in Logan is among Hartwell’s priorities, he told The Tribune last week.