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Orlando "Tubby" Smith (born ) is an Americanmarker college basketball coach. He is currently the men's basketball head coach at the University of Minnesotamarker. Smith previously served in the same role at the University of Tulsamarker, the University of Georgiamarker, and most recently, University of Kentuckymarker, where he coached the Wildcats to the 1998 NCAA championship.

Over his 18 seasons as a head coach, Smith has had 16 twenty-win seasons. In 2005, he joined Roy Williams, Nolan Richardson, Denny Crum and Jim Boeheim as the only head coaches to win 365 games in 15 seasons or less. Entering the 2007 season, Smith's career record was 387-145 and his .733 winning percentage was eighth among active coaches. With Minnesota's invite to the 2009 NCAA tournament, Smith became the fifth coach to lead four different teams to the NCAA tournament.

Smith's three sons are following in their father's coaching footsteps. "G. G." Smith, who played for his father at the University of Georgiamarker, is currently an assistant coach at Loyola College in Marylandmarker. Middle son Saul Smith, who played for his father at the University of Kentuckymarker, has joined his father as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota. Brian, his youngest son, was a point guard at Ole Missmarker and is an assistant coach at Windermere preparatory schoolmarker.

Early years

Smith, born in Scotlandmarker, in Saint Mary's County, Marylandmarker, is the sixth of 17 children born to sharecroppers Guffrie and Parthenia Smith. His large family accounts for his unusual nickname. Of all the Smith children, Tubby was most fond of staying in the galvanized washtub where the children were bathed. Smith says he tried to shake the moniker several times, but it stuck incessantly. He recalls that a 10th grade teacher who didn't tolerate nicknames was the last person to call him by his proper name, Orlando.

After having a scholarship offer from the University of Marylandmarker rescinded, Smith enrolled at High Point College (now High Point University), graduating in 1973. He played under three different head coaches at High Point, including future boss J. D. Barnett. He lettered four times and was an all-conference performer as a senior. Smith earned a Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education while at High Point, and also met his future wife, Donna, who was the homecoming queen.

After a brief stint in the Air Force, Smith began his coaching career with a four-year stint at his high school alma mater - Great Mills High School in Great Mills, Marylandmarker, compiling a 46-36 record. His next stop was Hoke County High School in Raeford, North Carolinamarker, where he recorded a 28-18 mark in two seasons.

Assistant coaching positions

Virginia Commonwealth University

At the college level, Smith began as assistant coach at Virginia Commonwealth Universitymarker under his former High Point coach J. D. Barnett. From 1979 to 1986, VCU amassed a 144-64 record, winning three Sun Belt Conference Championships.

Smith took two important things away from his experience as an assistant coach for the Rams. First, under Barnett, Smith learned the principles of the ball-line defense, a hallmark of Smith's teams throughout his head coaching career. Second was a relationship with fellow assistant David Hobbs, an assistant and associate head coach under Smith during his tenure at University of Kentuckymarker.

University of South Carolina

Smith left Virginia Commonwealth in 1986 to join George Felton's staff at the University of South Carolinamarker. Felton remembered Smith from having recruited one of his players while Smith was at Hoke High School. During Smith's three years, the Gamecocks were 53-35. Later, roles would be reversed, with Smith bringing Felton in as an assistant coach at Kentucky.

University of Kentucky

Smith joined the University of Kentuckymarker under then head coach Rick Pitino, who had the dubious honor of rebuilding a UK program that had been rocked by NCAA probation and player defections.

With only eight scholarship student-athletes, none taller than 6-7, the staff molded the Cats into winners once again, exceeding expectations to record a 14-14 mark. The following year, with Smith promoted to associate coach and UK still on probation, the Wildcats earned a 22-6 record, a final ranking of ninth in the AP poll, and an SEC-best 14-4 record.

Smith wasn't the only soon-to-be high profile name on Pitino's coaching staff at Kentucky. Future head coaches Ralph Willard, Herb Sendek, Billy Donovan, and Bernadette Locke-Mattox were all Smith's colleagues.

Head Coaching Stops

University of Tulsa

From 1991 to 1995, Smith led the Golden Hurricane to a 79-43 record. Rebuilding the basketball program his first two years, he then led the team to two consecutive Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles and two appearances in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament in 1994 and 1995. Smith's 1994 Tulsa team upset UCLA in the tourney's first round before knocking off Oklahoma State. In '95, the Hurricane blew away Big Ten team Illinois to open March Madness.

University of Georgia

On March 29, 1995, Smith accepted the head coaching job at the University of Georgiamarker, becoming the school's first African-American head coach. In two seasons, he led the Bulldogs to a 45-19 record, including the first back-to-back seasons of 20 wins or more in school history. His teams achieved a Sweet 16 finish in the 1996 NCAA Tournament and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs defeated Clemson to open the '96 tournament before upsetting the top-seeded Purdue Boilermakers.

University of Kentucky

Tubby Smith was introduced as the Wildcats' 20th head coach on May 12, 1997, charged with the unenviable task of replacing popular coach Rick Pitino, who had left to become the head coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics. The Wildcats were at the top of the basketball world at the time, having won a national title in 1996 and, according to many, missing a second straight title in 1997 by the torn ACL of shooting guard Derek Anderson. (Anderson tore his ACL in January against SEC foe Auburn; Kentucky lost the 1997 title game in overtime to the Arizona Wildcats.) The team Smith inherited sported seven players from the Arizona loss, and five from the 1996 championship team. However, since most of the players who had left after the 1996 and 1997 seasons were high NBA draft picks, his team had the lowest pre-season ranking since Kentucky came off probation in 1991.

In his first season at UK, he coached the Wildcats to their seventh NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, including a come-from-behind victory against Duke in the Elite Eight. His 1998 national championship is unique in modern times, as being the only team in over twenty years to win without a first-team All-American or future NBA lottery pick. (see 1998 NCAA Tournament).

Smith's teams, known primarily for a defense-oriented slower style of play coined "Tubbyball", received mixed reviews among Kentucky fans who have historically enjoyed a faster, higher-scoring style of play under previous coaches.

Smith led Kentucky to one national championship in 1998, a perfect 16–0 regular season conference record in 2003, five SEC regular season championships (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005) and five SEC Tournament titles (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004), with six Sweet Sixteen finishes and four Elite Eight finishes (1998, 1999, 2003, 2005) in his nine seasons. He totaled 100 wins quicker than any other Wildcat coach except Hall of Fame member Adolph Rupp, reaching the plateau in 130 games.

Although Smith compiled an impressive resume during his UK career, he came under considerable pressure from many UK fans, who believed that his recruiting was subpar and his failure to achieve a Final Four appearance in his last nine seasons was inadequate by UK standards. Some UK fans went as far as to place "for sale" signs on his front lawn. He did come just a double overtime loss short of a Final Four appearance in 2005, losing to Tom Izzo's Michigan State Spartans. This drought is the longest of any coach in UK history. That along with his double digit losing seasons (which led to Tubby's critics nicknaming him "Ten-Loss Tubby") led to the pressure. On March 22, 2007, Smith resigned his position of UK head coach to accept the head coach position at the University of Minnesota.

Smith led the Wildcats to an overall record of 263–83 record for a winning percentage of .760. In his 10 seasons with Kentucky, he averaged over 26 wins per season.

University of Minnesota

Smith was hired as the new men's head coach of the University of Minnesota on March 22, 2007.He replaced Dan Monson who resigned from Minnesota on November 30, 2006 and Jim Molinari who had been serving as the interim coach since Monson's resignation. Coach Smith joined Minnesotamarker after several disappointing seasons for the Gophers. Since Monson was brought in from Gonzaga on July 4, 1999 to rebuild a Minnesota program scandalized by academic fraud during Clem Haskins' regime, the Gophers made the NCAA tournament just one time, and in 2007 endured the first twenty loss season in their history.

The team went from 8–22 in 2006–07 to 20–14 in 2007–08. Smith also led his Golden Gophers to the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals after defeating 2nd seeded Indiana. Coach Smith also harvested a top 25 recruiting class, the best in years for the program. In the 2008–09 season, Tubby led Minnesota to a record of 22–11, culminating in a berth in the NCAA tournament.

In 2008, Smith had the highest salary of any state employee in Minnesotamarker.

Head coaching record

U.S. Olympic Basketball

Smith was selected to help coach the 2000 U.S. Olympic men's basketball team in Sydneymarker. He served as an assistant to then-Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich as the Americans met the high expectations set for them, capturing the gold medal.

Currently, he serves on the NCAA Committee to study basketball issues, joining Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and Oregon's Ernie Kent. He serves on the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors and in June 2000, spoke at a Congressional hearing on the issue of gambling in college sports.

Personal life

Smith has been very active in the Lexington, Kentuckymarker community. The Tubby Smith Foundation, which he established to assist underprivileged children, has raised over $1.5 million in the past 5 years. Also, several community centers in the greater Lexington area bear the moniker "Tubby's Clubhouse" due to his work within the centers.

On September 21, 2008, Tubby Smith's nephew, William L. Smith, a student at Becker College in Massachusettsmarker, was killed during a fight at an off-campus apartment in Worcester, Massachusettsmarker. He was stabbed once in the chest after a fight involving students and nonstudents broke out during a house party and spilled into the street. Arraigned on September 29, the suspect, 19-year-old Andre Thompson, from Worcester, has pleaded not guilty and was held without bail until a scheduled hearing the next day.


  1. ESPN - Smith leaving Kentucky to coach Minnesota - Men's College Basketball
  2. Howatt, Glenn - Quick, find the 1,425 people who earn more than the guv. Star Tribune, July 17, 2008. "The highest paid include county attorneys and medical examiners, a zoo director, state treatment center medical workers and more than 800 university professors. And earning the most among this group was Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith at $1 million."
  3. Tubby Smith's nephew slain in Massachusetts
  4. Man accused of stabbing coach's nephew pleads not guilty

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