HOUSTON - Prairie View A&M names interim basketball coach Byron Smith as the head coach of the Panthers on a permanent basis.
Smith, a former standout guard at the University of Houston in 1990 and 1991, was elevated from assistant coach at Prairie View to interim head coach In January when Byron Rimm II resigned after 11 years at the school.
Smith was 6-6 overall, including 6-5 in SWAC, before losing in the conference postseason tournament.
“I’m excited. I have worked a long time,” Smith said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports. “I’ve been very patient waiting on the opportunity.
“I’m very thankful to our President, Dr. (George) Wright, and our athletic director, Ashley Robinson, for showing confidence and faith in me that I could be the person that could lead this program to the next level.”
After playing professionally in Europe for six years, Smith was on the staff at the University of Houston as director of basketball operations.
He has also been an assistant coach at Texas A&M and Texas Southern before joining the staff at Prairie View A&M.
Smith’s big moment as a college basketball head coach is now.
“I am an emotional guy,” Smith said. “I yell and scream a lot, but I also cry a lot too.
“I won’t cry right now because I have to be a big boy, but after Monday I’ll probably be a little bit choked up. This is my divine assignment. This is not a hobby. This is not something I do occasionally. This is truly what God has blessed me to be able to do. So, I take it very, very seriously.”
Robinson decided Smith was the right man to lead the Panthers basketball program after concluding his search that began on Jan. 27 when Rimm resigned.
“We wanted a coach that was dedicated to the program, dedicated to the kids, because at the end of the day it’s all about the university and the student-athletes, and I definitely think that’s (part of) Coach Smith’s character.
“We wanted to get a good fit for the program. It’s time to win in basketball. We’re doing well in every sport. We wanted to bring in a young coach that could build a program.”
Robinson said he is “very comfortable” in handing over the leadership of the Panthers basketball program to Smith.
“If you look at it from an athletics standpoint, some of the things we’re doing on The Hill are very exciting. So with an exciting program I wanted to bring in an exciting coach.”