Lindenwood’s Chad Smith announced June 14 that he is stepping down as the school’s wrestling head coach effective immediately. Smith is leaving Lindenwood to pursue other opportunities.
“I would like to thank the administration and staff at Lindenwood for allowing me the opportunity to do what I love and the resources to be successful,” said Smith. “The memories I have gained as an athlete and coach at Lindenwood are something I will cherish and thank everyone involved in making those possible.”
“We are sad to see Chad leaving the Lindenwood athletics family,” said athletics director John Creer. “Chad has been a valuable part of the wrestling program as a student-athlete and a coach, and has been a part in some of the biggest victories in the school’s athletics history. He is leaving the program in very good shape, and we expect his successor to continue that winning tradition.”
Smith joined the Lindenwood wrestling program as a student-athlete. He was an All-American on the 2002 team which won the program’s first NAIA National Championship, and he won an individual NAIA national championship the next season. He was named a NAIA Scholar-Athlete and was Lindenwood’s Male Scholar Athlete of the Year in 2003.
Smith stayed with the program as a graduate assistant coach, and helped the team win another national title in 2005. After coaching high school wrestling for one season in 2006-07, he returned to Lindenwood as a full-time assistant coach in 2007. He won two more national titles as a member of the coaching staff in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, Smith was named the head coach of the program and the program continued its success. In its final season at the NAIA level, the Lions finished second at nationals, nine wrestlers earned All-American honors, and one captured an individual title.
In 2011-12, Smith helped transition the program from the NAIA to the NCAA Division II level. The program quickly produced at the NCAA level, including winning the 2015 MIAA Regular Championship Championship. Smith’s teams qualified at least three wrestlers for every NCAA Division II National Championship since the Lions have been eligible, and Lindenwood had a program-best seventh-place national finish in 2013-14. This past season, Smith coached one of the top wrestlers in program history in Terrell Wilbourn. Wilbourn finished the year with a perfect 25-0 record, and he won Lindenwood’s first individual NCAA national championship in the sport of wrestling.
Besides the success on the mat, Smith has built the program in many other ways off the mat. Among the highlights was creating the Joe Parisi Open, which has become one the top early season tournaments at the college level. Last year’s edition featured ranked teams from all levels of college wrestling, and it hosted over 600 wrestlers.
Creer announced that Jimmy Rollins will be the Interim Head Coach, and a national search will be conducted for Smith’s replacement. Rollins has been Smith’s assistant coach for the past five seasons.