Appalachian State University named Kermit Smith their new head baseball coach last Tuesday. Smith, a 15 year coaching veteran, will be the 13th coach in Mountaineers history after the university parted ways with former head coach Billy Jones in May after an 18-36 record.
Director of athletics Doug Gillin introduced Smith as the new leader of the Mountaineers in a press conference held Monday morning.
Along with a search committee consisting of Chancellor Sheri Everts and senior baseball players Sean Mason and Matt Brill, Gillin chose Smith from “over 100 applications” he received from all levels of baseball.
“We really want to make sure that somebody who would come here would understand that academics come first, we want our student-athletes to get their degrees and that was really important to us,” Gillin said. “We wanted to make sure that our next head coach understood social responsibility and that we represent Appalachian State University, the athletics department, our families
Smith comes from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina where he left with the highest winning record in program history of 244-134.
“Over the past seven years in Greenwood we have have been supported like family. Coach Jeff May, the athletic department and the community have been there for our family every step of the way,” Smith said. “The players that we are leaving behind are so special to us. We love them like family and that is the hardest part of this process. I want nothing but the best for them.”
Over the past five years, Smith took the Bearcats to four Peach Belt Conference tournaments, three NCAA tournaments, and two Division II College World Series appearances.
In 2016, Lander finished No. 3 in the Collegiate Baseball poll for a program finishing record and Smith was named ABCA/Diamond Southeast Regional Coach of the Year.
Prior to Lander, Smith spent eight years as Belmont Abbey’s head coach where he led the Crusaders to their first NCAA Division II College World Series in 2009, a Carolinas Conference regular-season title and qualifying for Regionals with their first-ever conference tournament championship. That same year he was named South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
In his introduction press conference on Monday, Smith discussed how he will practice two things that he has been doing in his 16 years as a head baseball coach.
“I think you need to recruit premium talent. I want to have guys who fit us,” Smith said. “I want to have guys who fit the way we’re going to play the game of baseball.”
Second is the development of that talent.
“I don’t want it to get lost in the talking about the national championship and the development and the recruiting and all that, everything that we do is going to be done within a family dynamic,” Smith said. “I think that the foundation of every successful family is there is a foundation of honesty and the communication that you’re going to have on a daily basis is going to be flat out brutally honest.”
In his career as a head coach, Smith has mentored eight Division II athletes to signing MLB contracts with his methods of developing young men through family values and constant communication with his players.
“Kermit Smith is one of the finest men I have ever been associated with in all my years in athletics,” Jeff May, vice president and director of athletics at Lander, said in a press release. “He is an excellent baseball coach and I am certain that he will lead Mountaineer baseball to championship level play.”
Story by Angelo Errico, Sports Reporter