BOONE, N.C. – Kermit Smith, a 15-year head coaching veteran, has been named the 13th head baseball coach (dating back to 1955; complete records from 1903-55 are not available) at Appalachian State University, director of athletics Doug Gillin announced on Thursday.
Smith, who comes to Appalachian State after seven seasons as the head coach at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., replaces Billy Jones, whose employment was discontinued in May.
“I am excited to announce Kermit Smith as the next head baseball coach at Appalachian State. I would like to thank the search committee chaired by Jonathan Reeder and Troy Heustess for their work,” said Gillin. “There was a tremendous amount of national interest in this position from coaches at all levels. Kermit has been a head coach for the past 15 years and has a successful track record of developing young men on and off the field. I believe he will be a great fit for our baseball program, athletic department, University and community. I am thrilled to welcome Kermit, Rebecca and their children Maddox, Beckett and Georgia to the Appalachian State family.”
In his seven years at Lander (2009-16), Smith was the winningest coach in program history with an overall 244-134 (.645) record. He took the Bearcats to four Peach Belt Conference (PBC) tournaments and three NCAA tournaments over the past five years. While at Lander, Smith had seven student-athletes sign contracts with Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliates, including a program record, four, in 2016.
The Bearcats have advanced to the NCAA Division II College World Series twice in the last three seasons, including a second time in 2016, finishing the season with a 44-16 record. The Bearcats finished the season ranked No. 3 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, the highest finish in program history and Smith was named ABCA/Diamond Southeast Regional Coach of the Year.
Smith set a program record for wins in a season during the 2014 campaign when the Bearcats finished 52-8 overall and ended the season with a No. 4 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball poll, while garnering the nation’s most prolific offense, leading Division II in home runs and runs scored. The Bearcats won the Southeast Regional and advanced to their first College World Series.
Among the highlights of the 2014 season, the Bearcats finished 27-3 on their home field (Dolny Stadium) and Smith was awarded PBC Coach of the Year and Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, while freshman pitcher Brandon White was named PBC Freshman of the Year.
The Bearcats posted back-to-back 30-win campaigns in 2012 (38 wins) and 2013 (35 wins) for the first time since the 2005-06 seasons. Under Smith in 2012, junior pitcher Chris Thomas won the PBC Pitcher of the Year, becoming the first Bearcat to ever receive a postseason conference award. In addition, Smith’s 38 wins during the 2012 season broke the program record for wins in a season and led the team to its first appearance in the NCAA tournament.
In just his second season at the helm of the Bearcats, Smith won 29 games (most for the program since 2006) and took Lander to the PBC tournament for the first time since the 1998 campaign.
Prior to Smith’s tenure at Lander, he spent eight years as Belmont-Abbey’s head coach and nine overall with the Crusaders. Much like his time at Lander, Smith became the winningest coach in program history on March 5, 2008. While at Belmont Abbey, he claimed two Conference Carolinas regular-season championships, a 2009 tournament championship with a NCAA Division II Southeast Regional Championship and an advancement to the 2009 NCAA Division II College World Series.
Similar to his successes at Lander, Smith led the Crusaders to their first NCAA Division II College World Series in 2009 - finishing the season with a 40-26 record and winning the Carolinas Conference regular-season title and qualified for Regionals with their first-ever conference tournament championship. He was named South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year.
Following a trip to the 2008 NCAA Division II South Atlantic Regional, Smith’s pupil, second baseman Alex Castellanos, was drafted 10th overall in the MLB Amateur Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Castellanos last appeared in the Major Leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. He is currently playing for the Colorado Rockies Triple-A affiliate, the Albuquerque Isotopes, after signing a contract during the offseason in December 2015. He has appeared in 17 games with a slashline of .271/.317/.441 and two home runs and eight RBI.
Smith also served as the chair for the Conference Carolinas coaches, while also being the chair for the Belmont Abbey coaches’ council. Smith was an active member of the community and served as the head coach for the Gaston Braves American Legion team from 2002-07, guiding them to a 99-62 record.
Smith graduated from Pfeiffer University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sports management and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. He played one season at Pfeiffer for former Appalachian State baseball coach and current Duke University baseball head coach, Chris Pollard. Smith also earned a master’s degree in sports management from California University in Pennsylvania in 2007.
He is a native of Arcadia, Fla. and is the son of Sue Ellen and the late George Kilpatrick Smith. Smith and his wife, Rebecca, are the proud parents of two sons, Maddox Kilpatrick and Beckett Thomas, and a daughter, Georgia Grace.
“Rebecca and I are extremely excited about joining the Appalachian State family,” said Smith. “In the short amount of time that I have spent around Doug and his staff, it is clearly evident that they are full of energy and enthusiasm. Our family is also looking forward to getting entrenched in the Boone community. Over the past seven years in Greenwood we have have been supported like family. Coach Jeff May, the athletic department and the community have been there for our family every step of the way. The players that we are leaving behind are so special to us. We love them like family and that is the hardest part of this process. I want nothing but the best for them.”
Smith continued, “Mountaineer baseball provides huge potential for success with their facilities and resources and we will work diligently to make App State an elite program in the Sun Belt and the country. My coaching philosophy shares equal emphasis on recruitment as well as the development of players. The next month will be spent getting to know our current players and determining our necessary steps to achieve our vision for Appalachian State baseball. I am excited to get in the trenches with these guys and hit the ground running.”
A press conference to introduce Coach Smith to the Appalachian State community will be held on Monday, July 18 at 11 a.m. in the Don and Pat Phillips VIP Club Lounge on the fifth floor of the Appalachian Athletics Center (at Kidd Brewer Stadium). The press conference is open to the public and will be streamed live at appstatesports.com.
SMITH’S COACHING CAREER AT A GLANCE
2000-01 — Belmont Abbey College (assistant coach)
2001-07 — American Legion Post 144-266 (head coach)
2001-09 — Belmont Abbey College (head coach — Two Conference Carolinas Titles, NCAA Division II Regional Title, 2009 College World Series)
2009-2016 — Lander University (head coach — PBC Conference Championship, Two NCAA Division II Regional Titles, Two College World Series)
2016- — Appalachian State University (head coach)
HONORS AND AWARDS
2009 — South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year
2014 — South Atlantic Region Coach of the Year and Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT SMITH
“Kermit Smith is one of the finest men I have ever been associated with in all my years in athletics. He is an excellent baseball coach and I am certain that he will lead Mountaineer baseball to championship level play. You get a chance ever decade or so, if you are lucky, to have on your staff a Kermit Smith. App State has hired a star. From the Bearcat baseball perspective it is a huge loss, but at the same time we are so happy for Coach Smith and his family. Finally, we cannot thank him enough for what he accomplished during his time here leading Bearcat baseball.”
– Jeff May, Vice President and Director of Athletics at Lander University
"It's a really proud day for me as a coach to see one of my former players take over a program that I love dearly, at a University that I love dearly. Kermit Smith and Appalachian State baseball are a perfect match for each other. I've known Kermit now for nearly two decades as a player, as an assistant coach and now a head coach. He's done a great job in every capacity and is a proven winner. He runs his programs with class and he'll bring that same spirit and energy and professionalism to Boone. He's in a great place with a lot of great people and I look for a lot of success to come out of that program over the next several years."
- Chris Pollard, Head Baseball Coach at Duke University
“As an alumnus of the Appalachian State baseball program, I am excited about Kermit Smith being hired as our next baseball coach. He brings experience, passion and a history of success to the program. He is also a man of high character who will represent the University in a positive manner at all times. I look forward to competing against him on the field while continuing to support his efforts to bring championships to Boone.”
– Rusty Stroupe, Head Baseball Coach at Gardner-Webb University