Clemson has decided to part ways with Clemson assistant men’s basketball coach Steve Smith. The school announced Friday Smith’s contract will not be renewed.
“I support the decision not to renew Steve Smith’s contract,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said in the release.
The news of Smith’s departure from Clemson comes a week after comments he said to convicted felon Christian Dawkins during a conversation that was wiretapped in July of 2017 by the FBI during its federal investigation of Dawkins as part of fraud scandal that has ripped through the college basketball world.
Though Smith was never charged with any wrongdoing in the case, he made several comments to Dawkins as part of the recruitment of former Duke star Zion Williamson. The comments were perceived as harmful to the Clemson basketball program, as well as some things he insinuated about the recruiting practices of the Clemson football program.
All of Smith’s comments were made public during Dawkins’ federal trial last week in New York and were released on Twitter by several national reporters who were covering the trial.
After news of Smith’s comments broke, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich said the comments were “unfortunate” and the athletic department was going to do its “due diligence” to get behind the meaning of them as they began a formal review of the men’s basketball program.
“I was disappointed,” Radakovich said at the time. “I think college athletics is college athletics. There are a lot of schools around the country that are dealing with some of this right now.
“My big thing is if we are going to deal with it, we are going to deal with it in an upfront transparent way and we are going to make the best decision for Clemson. That is what we are looking to do.”
Smith and the rest of Clemson’s assistant coaches were expected to have their contracts renewed at last week’s board of trustees meeting, but Clemson removed those items from the agenda because they felt like it was not appropriate to approve those at that time. The contracts for Clemson’s assistant men’s basketball coaches officially expired this past Tuesday.
Radakovich met with Smith and his legal representation on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the comments and what Clemson learned about them and Smith in its own internal investigation. He also wanted to hear Smith’s side of the story.
Smith was taken off the road from recruiting last week and was required to work from his office in Clemson.
Smith just wrapped up his seventh season at Clemson under head coach Brad Brownell. The Tigers have won at least nine ACC regular season games in four of the seven seasons he has been at Clemson, including the program’s run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in 2018.
Smith coached the Tigers’ wing players, and over the past few seasons he has helped spearhead the productivity displayed by two-time All-ACC forward Jaron Blossomgame and Donte Grantham. Prior to a season ending injury, Grantham was turning in a career season in 2017-18, averaging 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds to lead the Tigers to a 16-3 start to the season.
He also worked with first-team All-ACC forward and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, K.J. McDaniels in the 2013-’14 season. McDaniel produced one of the greatest individual seasons in school history for the Tigers that year.