Former Alcorn State University star Larry Smith was introduced as the school’s men’s basketball coach in a news conference here today.
Smith, 50, replaces Sam West, who posted a 44-103 record in five seasons. Alcorn State won just seven games and lost 24 in 2007-08 and did not qualify for the SWAC tournament.
“I know it’s not going to be easy,” said Smith, who signed a four-year contract with a $125,000 base salary. “But this thing’s going to happen. Believe me, I’m here for the duration. It’s not going to be easy getting rid of me.
“It’s going to take a lot of people to fire me and I’m not going down without a fight.”
Smith spent 23 years as a player and coach in the NBA and was an assistant with the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA until last week. He was an assistant with the Houston Rockets when they won NBA titles in 1994 and ’95.
Smith averaged 20.1 points and a Division I-high 15.1 rebounds for Alcorn during the 1979-80 season, his senior year. He was a two-time Southwestern Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
Smith was one of 52 applicants. He and Provine High School coach Luther Riley were the finalists.
Smith will make about $50,000 more per year than West.
“It was a charge to make that happen,” Alcorn athletic director Darren Hamilton said. “I have to thank alumni for making that happen. It is important when you make that kind of statement and a bump from a previous coach, it becomes a commitment from the institution that says we’re about retention.
“We want to retain you because we have a long journey ahead of us. In that regard, we have to compensate accordingly.”