ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - Former Clemson coach Audra Smith celebrated her 21st wedding anniversary in Orangeburg.
Her husband and family weren't on hand to celebrate the occasion, but the former Virginia Cavalier still had a huge smile on her face. Smith begins her new chapter as the new women's basketball head coach at South Carolina State University.
"I'm beyond excited," Smith said. "I couldn't wait to sign the lease for the place that I'll be living. It's just such a really, really neat town. I am a country girl. I'm originally from Milledgeville, Ga., a small town outside of Macon, Ga. My husband is from Faison, N.C., and this is a perfect fit for us in terms of the fact that it is a college town and I'm excited to be here because of all of the opportunities and possibilities that are here."
Smith becomes the first hire at SC State under athletic director Stacy Danley. For him, the choice was pretty clear after meeting Smith.
"We always talk about pedigree when we're trying to identify championship-level coaches," said Danley. "The first thing I was impressed with Coach Smith was her pedigree. She was a champion as a student-athlete at the University of Virginia. She was a champion as an assistant coach at the University of Virginia. She was a champion at UAB as a head coach and then came over the ACC and they had a very competitive team. So, that pedigree was very important to me."
Smith joins the Bulldogs after spending five years at the head coach at Clemson. During her tenure with the Tigers, Smith was 52-101. Smith began her career as a head coach at UAB. There, she was 138-138 from 2004 to 2013. Now, she's looking forward to the challenge of winning titles at SC State.
"With most programs, there's building," Smith said, "and there's building that needs to be done here. We have an opportunity to win quite a few games this season. We have an opportunity to be very competitive this season. The team from last season, they won six conference games. I had a long conversation with the five returning seniors during my interview and they're ready to play. They're ready to win. They're ready to work. They're very passionate and they want to be successful and that's what you need."
The Lady Bulldogs ended last year with a 12-17 record under Doug Robertson, Jr.