Tubby Smith steps down as High Point basketball coach

The longtime coach and High Point alumnus will turn the program over to his son, who will lead the Panthers for the rest of this season and 2022-23

High Point basketball coach Tubby Smith directs his team during a game at Kentucky's Rupp Arena earlier this season. (James Crisp / AP Photo)

Tubby Smith, citing the effects of two bouts with COVID in less than a year, has decided to step down as the basketball coach at High Point, effective immediately.

He will be succeeded by his son and associate head coach G.G. Smith, starting with Thursday’s home game against Big South Conference rival Longwood. He will lead the program through its final four games this season, as well as 2022-23.

The 70-year-old Smith, who won a national championship with Kentucky in 1998, began his career as a player at High Point, earning all-conference honors as a senior. He returned to his alma mater four years ago in an effort to help boost the fortunes of its struggling program.

He ends his tenure with a 45-67 mark. His current team stands at 11-14 overall, 5-6 in the Big South.

“I feel blessed to have had an amazing career leading, coaching and teaching great young men at first-class institutions,” Smith said in a statement announcing his decision. “Working at my alma mater during this stage of my career has been a dream.  I’m thrilled that G.G. will be taking over as head coach.  He will do a super job.”

Smith went on to say that he and his wife, Donna, a former High Point homecoming queen, will continue to support and assist the university in any way they can.

“HPU will always have a very special place in our hearts as we met and fell in love here at High Point,” he said. “Our commitment and passion for HPU will never wane and we intend to continue to be an integral part of its growth and prosperity well into the future.”

Smith is one of only three coaches in college basketball history to take five different schools to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to Kentucky, he also led Tulsa, Georgia, Minnesota and Texas Tech to the tournament.

He was honored with a banner hoisted to the rafters at Rupp Arena commemorating his time at Kentucky prior to High Point’s game against the Wildcats earlier this season.

Smith’s career record, which includes a two-year stint at Memphis, is 642-369.

“Tubby Smith is a Hall of Fame head coach and HPU has been fortunate to have his leadership of our men’s basketball program,” High Point athletic director Dan Hauser said. “From Day One with the Panthers, Coach Smith established a first-class program of the utmost character and integrity. 

“His passion on the court was unmatched and his enthusiasm to engage with HPU alumni and in the High Point community was amazing to experience.  I’m excited to work with G.G. and continue the growth of the basketball program.”