Utah State will introduce South Dakota’s Craig Smith as the school’s basketball coach Tuesday morning in Logan.
USU announced Monday that Smith was athletic director John Hartwell’s choice to replace Tim Duryea, after Smith visited the campus Sunday.
Smith is not the kind of big-name hire that some may have anticipated when Hartwell told KVNU Radio that fans would be “blown away” by the level of interest in the job. His work in four seasons at South Dakota, however, suggests that he can fit Hartwell’s criteria of injecting energy into a program and driving interest among students and patrons that had waned in recent years.
“When we started this process two weeks ago we identified several characteristics we wanted in our next head coach — high energy, high character, a proven recruiter and proven player development, to name a few,” Hartwell said in a news release. “We believe we have not only checked all the boxes, but that we have hit a home run with the hiring of Craig Smith.”
Smith said, “Our family and I are pumped to join Utah State University and the community of Logan,” said Smith. “Utah State men’s basketball has tremendous leadership from the top in President [Noelle] Cockett, athletic director John Hartwell, and all the way down. It was easy to see and feel that our visions were aligned when it comes to running a successful basketball program.”
The firing of Duryea and hiring of Smith represent Hartwell’s first personnel moves in a flagship sport since he arrived at USU in the summer of 2015. Duryea had just been promoted by former athletic Scott Barnes; Hartwell also inherited football coach Matt Wells.
Smith’s 22 years of coaching experience include five seasons as an assistant to Tim Miles at Colorado State in the Mountain West. He followed Miles to Nebraska, then took over South Dakota’s program in 2014 and went 79-55, 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.