Kyle Smith was named Columbia’s 22nd head coach in the 110-year history of the men’s basketball program on May 2, 2010.
In 2012-13, the Lions knocked off a pair of eventual NCAA Tournament teams after statement wins at Villanova and against Harvard at Levien Gym. Columbia's 42 wins in Smith's first three seasons at the helm are the most for a Columbia coach since Lou Rossini (1950-52).
Smith completed the 2011-12 season leading Columbia to its second straight 15-win season, marking the first time a coach compiled back-to-back 15+ win seasons since Tom Penders in 1977-78 and 1978-79. Brian Barbour was named first team All-Ivy League, the second straight season the Lions had a first team All-Ivy selection. Barbour was also an all-region honoree by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
Over the last two seasons, Columbia has finished with an RPI of 186, the highest in program history in the 20 years that RPI data has been available.
Smith led the Lions to a 15-13 record in 2010-11, the first winning season for a new Columbia head coach in 33 years. Ten of those wins came at home games at Levien Gymnasium, tied for the most in program history in a single season. The Lions increased their scoring output by more than 10 points per game in 2010-11 and scored more than 70 points 15 different times during the season.
Under Smith's tutelage, a pair of Columbia guards – Noruwa Agho (first team) and Brian Barbour (honorable mention) – were named All-Ivy League. Agho was also recognized on a regional level by the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Metropolitan Writers Association.
Smith, who was an 18-year veteran assistant coach at the NCAA Division I level, had worked as the associate head men’s basketball coach at St. Mary’s College (Ca.) of the West Coast Conference (WCC), for nine seasons. At St. Mary’s, he played an integral role in building their successful men’s basketball program. In 2009-10, the Gaels finished 28-6 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament.
“I am very excited to be the next head men’s basketball coach at Columbia, one of the nation’s premier universities,” Smith said upon being named Columbia's head coach. “I am very grateful to Dr. M. Dianne Murphy and President Lee C. Bollinger for this tremendous opportunity. I look forward to the challenge of building an Ivy League championship men’s basketball program at Columbia.”
When Smith arrived at St. Mary’s (Calif.) in 2001, the team had won only two games in the previous season. In his last three years with the Gaels, the school won 81 games. As the associate head coach under Gary Bennett, he was responsible for running the team’s offense and coordinating all recruiting activities. He was a vital component of the coaching staff that saw St. Mary’s ascend into the Top-25 in 2010.
Before coming to Saint Mary’s, Smith spent one season as the top assistant at the Air Force Academy. During his only season with the Falcons, Smith served as the offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and helped with player development and scouting.
Before joining the Academy, Smith served an eight-year stint at the University of San Diego from 1992-2000. During his time at San Diego, Smith helped lead the team to the second most victories in school history from 1998-2000. As the Associate Head Coach, Smith helped guide a Torero defense led the West Coast Conference in fewest points allowed (62.6 ppg) and was also ranked among the top 20 in the country in rebounding margin in 1999-2000.
Smith is a 1992 graduate of Hamilton College, where he played basketball, and helped lead the Continentals to a 26-1 record and a #1 ranking in NCAA Division III during his junior season. In his senior season at Hamilton, Smith shot 51.3 percent from three-point range, which still stands as the program record for a single season. That year, Hamilton was ECAC Champions.Smith holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of San Diego, where he began his coaching career. He and his wife, Katie, have two sons, Rocco and Bo. The family resides in Morningside Heights, close to the Columbia campus.
What they're saying about Kyle Smith:
"He will be very successful. He has been a huge part of what we've done [at St. Mary's]. It's been he and I together - it's been like having a co-coach." - St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett
"[Smith] is the smartest man in college basketball. I think he has the best feel and overview of basketball programs and coaching of anyone I've ever met." - Richmond head coach Chris Mooney
"He’s learned from a lot of great coaches. He has his own philosophy now.” - Tom Murphy, former Hamilton College head coach and Northeastern associate head coach
“If we haven’t said it before, Kyle Smith was a fantastic hire (off the SMC bench). Not only because he’s got a good name. Great tactician.” - Kyle Whelliston, MidMajority.com