Legendary UMSL Basketball Coach, Athletics Director Chuck Smith passes away

Chuck Smith, 1927-2014

Chuck Smith, 1927-2014

Chuck Smith, who established the University of Missouri–St. Louis intercollegiate athletics program and served as the school’s first head men’s basketball coach, passed away on Monday, July 21, at the age of 87.

A memorial service will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday, July 26, at Baue Funeral Home, 3950 West Clay St. in St. Charles, Mo.

Smith was the first-ever men’s basketball coach at UMSL, starting the program in 1966. He led the Rivermen for 13 years, compiling a 171-143 record. He retired following the 1978-79 season to become UMSL’s first full-time athletics director.

During the 1968-69 season, Smith directed UMSL to a 19-7 record and the NAIA District 16 title. In 1971-72, he guided team to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II National Tournament. During his tenure, Smith coached three All-American players.

Smith was also the university’s first athletics director, leading the department from its infancy in 1966 with just two sports until his retirement in August 1992 when the school sponsored 12 sports programs.

He oversaw the construction of the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center, home of the basketball teams, as well as a multi-purpose facility for recreational use by campus students. Other UMSL athletic facilities that were built under Smith’s tenure include the Don Dallas Soccer field, the tennis courts, the old baseball field and the intramural field. In 1991, Smith spearheaded a 1.5 million renovation of the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center to upgrade the facility for both athletic and recreational use.

During his time as AD, there were a total of 37 teams that qualified for NCAA postseason tournaments, including the men’s soccer 1973 national championship team. A total of 55 student-athletes earned All-American honors during Smith’s tenure as AD. He oversaw the addition of women’s athletic teams in the mid-1970s and helped UMSL get into the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1980. He was an inaugural inductee to the UMSL Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and was inducted into the Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame in 1990.

Born on June 27, 1927, in Ridgway, Ill., Smith enrolled at Washington University in St. Louis in 1947 after serving a year and a half in the Navy during World War II. At WUSTL, Smith received his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1951 and a master of arts degree in 1952. As an undergraduate, Smith played guard on the varsity basketball team, receiving three varsity letters.

After graduation, Smith spent seven years teaching and coaching at Leadwood and Bonne Terre High Schools in central Missouri.

Smith returned to his alma mater as head basketball coach in 1959, compiling an 84-59 record in six years. He left WUSTL in 1965 to become the head coach at Central Missouri State. After leading the Mules to a 14-8 record and a second place finish in the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Smith accepted the position of athletics director and men’s basketball coach at UMSL.

Smith retired from his position as athletics director in 1992. In 2006, the gym floor at the Mark Twain Building was named Chuck Smith Court.


  • Head Men’s Basketball Coach (1966-79)
  • Record at UMSL: 171-143 (.545) in 13 seasons
  • Coached three All-Americans: Jack Stenner (68-69), Greg Daust (71-72) and Bob Bone (74-75, 75-76, 76-77)
  • 1968-69 – NAIA National Tournament District Champions
  • 1971-72 – NCAA Division II National Tournament Quarterfinalists


  • 1990 – Missouri Basketball Hall of Fame
  • 1997 – Washington University Sports Hall of Fame
  • 2001 – UMSL Sports Hall of Fame

Accomplishments Under Smith:

  • Oversaw the start of 15 different athletic programs at UMSL
  • 55 student-athletes received All-American recognition
  • 37 teams qualified for the NCAA Tournament
  • One national championship team (1973 men’s soccer)
  • Men’s soccer made 17 trips to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, advancing to the Final Four six times
  • Men’s basketball made two trips to the NCAA National Tournament
  • Baseball won the 1984 MIAA Championship and made the NCAA Tournament eight times, including three trips to the NCAA Division II College World Series
  • Women’s Soccer made three trips to the national tournaments, advancing to two final fours
  • Volleyball made its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division II National Tournament
  • Softball won the 1989 MIAA Championship and advanced to the NCAA Division II National Tournament
  • Golf made four NCAA National Tournament appearances
  • The swimming program sent individuals to the NCAA Division II National Championship eight times in a nine-year span

Visit the UMSL Tritons YouTube page to view a picture video tribute to Chuck Smith. Read more about Smith’s UMSL career in this spring 2007 UMSL Magazine article.


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