The USF men’s basketball team is coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent memory. Even though the Dons have officially entered their offseason, they are keeping busy with some new adjustments. The NCAA’s bustling coaching market means that the team will play next season on the Hilltop without the familiar face of head coach Kyle Smith, who is headed for the Pacific Northwest.
Rumblings of Smith’s departure first began circulating on Twitter. On March 26, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported that Smith was negotiating a contract with the Washington State University Cougars to become the head coach of their men’s basketball team. At the time of Rothstein’s tweet, details on the negotiations were scarce. However, multiple news outlets believed it was only a matter of time before Smith signed on the dotted line.
These suspicions were all but confirmed on March 27 when several websites reported that Smith and the Cougars had finally come to terms on an agreement. Later that day, Washington State’s athletics department issued a press release confirming that Smith had signed a six-year contract worth $1.4 million dollars per year.
Smith’s continued success as a head coach has made him a valuable asset for any university. He ventured to San Francisco in the spring of 2016 after spending six seasons coaching the Columbia University Lions men’s basketball team. This past summer, Smith signed a contract extension with the Dons. Since USF is a private institution, details on this extension were never publicly disclosed, but the University’s public tax forms show that Smith made $573,308 in 2016.
This past season saw the Smith-Dons dynasty hit its stride as the team opened up with a seven-game undefeated streak. Even after their streak was broken at the hands of the Buffalo Bulls, the Dons were determined to remain in the win column. The team went on to rack up wins against the likes of Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Brigham Young University. A three-game skid saw the Dons finish with a 21-10 record, finishing fourth in the West Coast Conference (WCC). Their season officially ended when the Pepperdine University Waves beat the Dons 89-72 in the third round of the WCC Tournament.
Through all the ups and downs, Smith continued to churn out high-quality performances, the likes of which are nothing new to him. During his time with the program, Smith accumulated 63 wins under his belt. Additionally, all three seasons under Smith saw the Dons finish with 20-plus wins.
Speaking to the San Francisco Chronicle, Todd Golden, the new head coach of the Dons, says that Smith was a firm believer in not being able to reach the top “unless you really believe that you can do it” and that Smith “did a great job instilling that belief in both our team and our community.”