COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri wrestling head coach Brian Smith has signed a contract extension, as announced Friday morning by Director of Athletics Mike Alden. The contract is a five-year deal lasting through the 2016-17 season, with a one-year automatic extension for the 2017-18 campaign that would kick in on May 1, 2013.
“We’re very happy to be able to announce this for Coach Smith and the rest of the Missouri wrestling program,” Alden said. “Brian and his staff have turned Mizzou wrestling in to one of the nation’s elite programs, and we look forward to many more years of success under his watch at Missouri.”
Already the longest-tenured head coach in the history of Missouri wrestling, the 2012-13 season will mark Smith’s 15th since taking over for Wes Roper in 1998. In that time, the Tigers have seen unprecedented success both on the mat and in the classroom, crowning four national champions, 26 All-Americans, 14 Academic All-Americans and 40 Academic All-Conference honorees.
“The most important thing about this extension is the statement it makes about the program’s future,” stated Smith. “The administration, the coaching staff, and the student-athletes have helped build something special, and the department is committed to helping the program continue their quest for a National Championship”
Since 1998-99, Smith and Missouri have compiled a dual record of 173-82-3, making him the winningest coach by both victories and winning percentage (.676) in program history. He’s also lead the team to seven top-15 finishes at the NCAA Championships, including a third place finish in 2007, capturing the school’s only team trophy since the 1965 Men’s Indoor Track and Field team won the national championship.
“Finalizing this contract with Brian was very important to us, not just because we wanted to recognize him for all he’s helped the program achieve, but because we also want to express how committed we are to wrestling at Mizzou going forward,” said Executive Associate Athletic Director Sarah Reesman. “Brian and his staff have accomplished so many great things – both athletically and academically – and we look forward to the program reaching even greater levels of success in years to come.”
In 2012, the program claimed their first Big 12 Conference championship, scoring 77.0 points with four individual champions in front of the hometown crown at the Hearnes Center. The team would go on to qualify all 10 starters for the NCAA Championships for the first time ever and was the only team in all of Division I Wrestling to accomplish that feat in 2012.
“The administration has always given me everything I’ve asked for,” Smith said. “They come to me and ask ‘what can we do’ to help improve the program. We’ve had a great working relationship since I started here. They see the big picture and they see how we’re developing young men in to future leaders. This was an easy decision for me because I knew how important it was for the program.”
The University of Missouri has continuously confirmed their long-term support for the Tiger wrestling program, despite the fact that the Southeastern Conference does not sponsor the sport. Along with Smith’s extension, the program recently announced several additions to their coaching staff. After three years as a volunteer, Joe Johnston was promoted to a full time assistant, while former National Champion Mark Ellis returns to his alma mater to take over the volunteer position. An All-American in 2011, Todd Schavrien also comes back to Mizzou to serve as the Director of Operations. On top of all that, the current wrestling facility will be expanded and upgraded to allow for an Olympic development center.