Former Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach Smith re-enters college ranks

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

B.J. Smith accepted the job at Highland Community College in Kansas

Former Southeast Missouri State women's basketball coach B.J. Smith is returning to the profession for the first time since his tenure with the Redhawks ended nearly five years ago.

Smith recently was named the women's basketball coach at Highland (Kan.) Community College.

"I'm excited," Smith said Tuesday night.

Smith was Southeast's coach for four seasons from 2002 through 2006, leading the program to what at the time were its most successful seasons in Division I basketball.

Smith led Southeast to the program's first NCAA Division I tournament berth during the 2005-06 season, which also included a share of the program's first Ohio Valley Conference regular-season title and first OVC tournament championship.

But Smith was placed on administrative leave just before the start of the 2006-07 campaign amid NCAA allegations. He resigned in December of 2006.

The university later was placed on probation for NCAA violations during Smith's tenure. Southeast had to vacate all 44 wins from the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons along with its OVC regular-season and tournament titles from 2005-06.

Smith led Southeast to a 79-41 on-court record, although his official coaching mark with the Redhawks is 35-41 due to the vacating of the 44 victories.

Smith has continued to live in Cape Girardeau, running a basketball academy since leaving Southeast. He said it was a successful venture and he was happy with that until the lure of returning to college coaching became too great.

"When I first left SEMO, I wasn't overly excited about doing anything as far as college coaching. The SEMO experience left a bad taste," Smith said. "But the more you're away from it, the more you miss it. The last two years I've really missed it."

Smith, a successful junior college coach before coming to Southeast, takes over a Highland team that went 13-19 last season. He replaces James Arnold, who left to take over the program at Central Methodist in Fayette, Mo.

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