Clemson University

Clemson dismisses basketball assistant after FBI trial comments

Clemson Athletics Director Dan Radakovich told The State Thursday night in Florence that he hoped to have a final word on Steve Smith’s future with the men’s basketball program “sooner rather than later.”

That word came less than 24 hours later as Clemson announced Friday morning that Smith’s contract will not be renewed.

“Clemson Athletics has not renewed the contract of assistant men’s basketball coach Steve Smith, which expired on April 30, 2019,” Clemson said in a statement.

“I support the decision not to renew Steve Smith’s contract,” Tigers head coach Brad Brownell said.

The State has reached out to Smith for comment but has yet to hear back.

The choice to not renew Smith’s contract was made after he was linked to the FBI NCAA basketball case last week.

According to testimony, Smith was caught on an FBI wiretap discussing the recruitment of Zion Williamson, the Clemson men’s basketball program and the Tigers’ football team. The wiretap was played as part of testimony for the FBI hoops trial that is currently taking place in New York.

When discussing Clemson recruiting Williamson, Smith allegedly said on wiretap: “That’s why football is so successful, is if you do it and use resources at Clemson, like you can really keep everything tight,” according to updates from Matt Norlander of CBSSports.

Tigers football coach Dabo Swinney spoke about those comments for the first time Thursday night in Florence at a Prowl and Growl event.

“Just disappointed because I know how we run our program. I’m very proud of how we run our program,” Swinney said. “We’ve always been a program committed to doing things the right way and we always will be.”

Swinney added that Brownell reached out and apologized for the comments Smith made. Swinney had not heard from Smith.

Smith had been on staff at Clemson since the 2012-13 season after previously working as an assistant coach at Georgia Southern. He was on a year-by-year contract, as all of Clemson’s basketball assistants are.

Clemson assistants Dick Bender and Antonio Reynolds Dean remain on staff, although their contracts have not officially been approved by the board of trustees yet.

Clemson’s assistants were set to get new deals at last week’s board meeting, but those new deals were put on hold after Smith’s comments were played in court.

In addition to Bender and Dean, Matt Bucklin serves as Clemson’s Director of Operations, Marty Simmons is the Special Assistant to the Head Coach and Terrell McIntyre is the Director of Player Development. Clemson will look to the outside to hire a replacement for Smith instead of promoting from within, according to a source close to the program.

The Tigers finished 20-14 (9-9) this past season, losing to Wichita State in the second round of the NIT. Clemson must replace four starters off of this past year’s team.