Urbana University Executive Director of Athletics Larry Cox announced Wednesday the hiring of Brett Smith as the school’s head men’s wrestling coach. Smith will begin his duties on Nov. 14.
UU announced the addition of three Division II programs earlier this year including men’s wrestling, men’s volleyball and acrobatics and tumbling.
“I’m excited to announce that Brett Smith will be charged with the task of re-launching our men’s wrestling program,” Cox said. “He competed and coached at the NCAA Division II level at an institution very similar to Urbana so he will be very familiar with the type of student-athletes that will be a great fit here.
“Brett is a very polished, well-rounded person who is extremely impressive and who has a passion, drive and commitment to the sport of wrestling. I think we have the perfect person to lead the modern Blue Knight wrestling program,” Cox added.
Smith spent the past year as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Seton Hill University, a D-II program located in Greensburg, Pa. He was a four-year letterwinner at SHU, where he is currently pursuing an MBA degree.
“I first want to thank Larry Cox, Dr. [Christopher] Washington and the rest of the staff at Urbana for this opportunity,” Smith said. “Wrestling is an important part of the local culture in Ohio, and I think this area is excited for more access to college wrestling. I look forward to building a program of success for the Blue Knights on the mat, in the classroom and in the community.”
Last season, Smith helped the Griffins earn a fifth-place team finish at the NCAA D-II Super Region 1 Tournament and coached five national qualifiers with one All-American. Smith played an active role in fundraising, recruiting and monitoring academic progress. The Brookville, Pa., native also spent two summers working wrestling camps at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
During his collegiate career, Smith totaled 48 wins across four weight classes. He served as a team captain during his junior and senior campaigns while being named a two-time member of the NCAA Division II All-Academic Team.
Smith graduated Magna Cum Laude with an Honors Degree in Biology from Seton Hill in 2016.
The revitalized UU men’s wrestling program will begin competition in the 2018-19 season. UU sponsored an NAIA men’s wrestling program for nearly 20 years which ended in the early 1990s, and the institution is eager to bring back a program that produced three UU Hall of Fame members – Jim McCracken, Thomas Bemmes and former coach, faculty member and administrator Lester Baum.
With the sport carrying immense popularity in the surrounding communities, UU becomes the sixth D-II school in Ohio to have a wrestling team.