HICKORY, N.C. – Grahm Smith has been named the 13th head women’s basketball coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate has announced. Smith comes to L-R from William Peace University in Raleigh and brings a 135-53 all-time record and .814 winning percentage over seven years as a head coach.
Smith built both programs he has coached to historic levels and owns a 69-9 all-time conference record. In just two seasons at William Peace, Smith led the Pacers to a 39-16 mark and was named the 2020 USA South Coach of the Year after guiding his team to a 15-1 record in USA South action and a 23-5 overall mark. Smith’s Pacers became the first program in any sport at William Peace to earn a bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament and they won the USA South regular season title in the East Division for the first time in program history.
“I am excited for Coach Grahm Smith to take over the helm of our women’s basketball program,” said Pate. “He brings all the attributes we look for in a head coach. He is a tremendous teacher, outstanding recruiter and evaluator of talent, an inspiring and proven leader who understands how to build a winning culture and he is genuinely passionate about developing his players not only in basketball but for life. I am confident Coach Smith will position our players for success both on and off the court while re-establishing a tradition of excellence that will energize our fans, alumni, and the greater Hickory community.”
In his first year at WPU, Smith inherited a team that had won four games the prior year and was returning only three players. After adding 18 student-athletes in his first recruiting class, the Pacers went on to win 12 more games in his first season, finishing with a 16-11 mark. Not only did the program increase its win total, they also finished with the third-best record in program history, the second-best record in the last 12 years and had a winning record for just the second time in 12 seasons.
“I would like to thank Vice President for Athletics Kim Pate, President Dr. Fred Whitt and the search committee for this amazing opportunity and welcoming me into the Lenoir-Rhyne family,” said Smith. “I am extremely honored and blessed to be the next Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Lenoir-Rhyne University. I am very excited for the future of Lenoir-Rhyne women’s basketball and am looking forward to establishing a culture of excellence that prepares our players for success in life, the classroom and on the court.”
In total, Smith recruited and developed five all-conference players in his time with the Pacers.
Before taking over at William Peace, Smith served as the head women’s coach at Dean College from 2013-18. During his tenure with the Bulldogs, Dean went 96-37 overall and 43-3 in conference play, while making three consecutive national tournament appearances. His 24-win season during the 2015-16 campaign was a single-season record for wins at Dean and he left as the winningest coach in program history.
He led Dean College to three consecutive NJCAA Division 2 Region XXI Championships, one Northeast District Championship, one New England Collegiate Conference Regular Season Championship and registered three consecutive National Tournament appearances, all firsts for the Dean College women’s basketball program. Following the 2015-16 season, Smith was named the NJCAA Division 2 District N Coach of The Year.
During his tenure, Smith recruited and developed 11 First Team All-Conference selections, eight All-Americans and three Academic All-Americans.
In addition to his on-court success, Dean helped transition the Bulldogs from NJCAA to NCAA Division III. During both tenures, Smith has also held additional titles of Director of Student-Athlete Academic Success and Assistant Athletic Recruiting Coordinator to name a few.
Smith held assistant coaching positions at Rockford University (2008-13) and Palm Beach Atlantic University (2007-08). He was a two-year member of the men’s basketball team at Palm Beach Atlantic and spent one year at Maryville College where he helped his team to a Sweet 16 appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Smith earned his bachelor’s in physical education at Palm Beach Atlantic and his master’s in education from Rockford University.
“I would like to thank Kurt Patberg from Athletics Staffing & Consultants for his invaluable effort in helping to develop an outstanding pool of highly qualified candidates for this search,” said Pate.