The University of Northern Colorado and head men’s basketball coach Steve Smiley have agreed to a new contract that will keep him at the helm through the 2026-227. The new five-year agreement became official today upon approval at the Board of Trustees meeting.
“I am honored by the faith President Feinstein and Director of Athletics Darren Dunn have shown in my staff and I by providing the opportunity to secure my future in Greeley at UNC,” said Smiley. “I would not be in this position without the support of my family, so many mentors or the student-athletes I’ve had the pleasure to coach at UNC. The athletes are the reason for our success and our staff looks forward to the challenge of building on the momentum we have and continuing the upward trajectory of this program.”
In two seasons at the helm of Bears Basketball, Smiley has tackled the near-dismantling of a recruiting class following former head coach Jeff Linder’s departure, the global pandemic and return to play protocols that challenged the most seasoned veteran coaches.
Smiley led the Bears to a 13-7 league record and a pair of postseason wins in the Big Sky Conference Tournament to advance to the school’s first Big Sky championship game. After bowing out to Montana State in the title bout, Smiley’s squad then accepted a College Basketball Insiders Postseason Tournament bid where they notched two more victories before falling in the semifinals to eventual champion UNC Wilmington. The Bears compiled a 22-16 overall record in 2021-22 to tie for the third most victories in a season during the school’s Division I era.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have Coach Smiley at the helm of UNC basketball,” said Director of Athletics Darren Dunn, “Besides being an exceptional coach, Steve is a great mentor who cares about our student-athletes, the University and our community. His top priority is to develop our young men into champions for life. I am excited to have this new agreement in place and keep Coach Smiley, his wonderful family and his great staff as UNC Bears for years to come.”
This past year the Bears secured their most-heralded recruiting class to date, with Colorado prep signees Langston Reynolds and Brock Wisne along with fellow freshmen Juju Ramirez and Caleb Shaw, and graduate transfer Riley Abercrombie. Smiley netted heralded junior college standout guard Mekhi Cameron just this week.