Utah State Vice President and Director of Athletics John Hartwell has officially announced the contract extension of head men’s basketball coach Craig Smith, extending his tenure with the Aggies through the 2025-26 season.
“We are excited to announce this extension of Craig’s contract,” Hartwell said. “In less than three years he has established a consistent standard of excellence in our men’s basketball program. Coach Smith understands and excels at all aspects of a successful program from recruiting, to player development, to opponent scouting, to community relations and all points in between. Under Craig’s leadership, we look forward to continued success in the Mountain West Conference and on a national level.”
Under Smith’s watch, Utah State has captured back-to-back Mountain West Tournament titles, one of just four teams in league history to accomplish that feat, and a share of the 2018-19 MW regular season championship. Overall, Utah State is 68-22 under Smith, including a 38-13 mark in league play. Smith’s .771 winning percentage against Mountain West competition over the last three years is second in league history and ranks behind Dave Rose at BYU (.781), and ahead of Eric Musselman at Nevada (.741), Brian Dutcher at San Diego State (.726) and Rick Majerus at Utah (.698).
“We love Utah State. It’s been an amazing place for our family and a great move for our family. We love it here,” Smith said. “It is a tremendous league. We are surrounded by amazing people from top to bottom, including our athletic director John Hartwell, the athletic department, our coaches, our staff, our players, the people living in Cache Valley and the entire Aggie family. I’ve been in this business for a long time, 25 years, and this has been a phenomenal place to live and a great experience. We are excited to continue this journey at Utah State.”
Smith, the 2019 Mountain West Coach of the Year, led the Aggies to an overall mark of 28-7 during the 2018-19 season, marking the most victories by a first-year head coach at Utah State and the third-most wins in school history. That season, USU earned the No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the highest in program history, and logged school records of 2,753 points and 147 blocks.
Last season, Utah State captured its second-consecutive Mountain West Tournament championships and was one of the first teams in the nation to punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament before it was ultimately canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam Merrill, 2019 MW Player of the Year and two-time MW Tournament MVP, flourished under Smith, finishing his career second in school history with 2,197 points and 477 assists.
This season, Utah State is 14-7 overall, including an 11-4 mark in the Mountain West, and in the hunt for the regular season conference title. The Aggies are one of the best defensive teams in the country and rank among the top-25 in the nation in defensive field goal percentage (.395, 18th) and scoring defense (63.0, 25th). USU is also dominant on the glass, outrebounding every opponent this season and carrying a rebounding margin of 10.4 to rank third in the nation.
After almost 10 years as a head coach, Smith has an overall mark of 219-105, including three years at Mayville State (72-29), four years are South Dakota (79-55) and currently in his third year at Utah State (68-22).