UVU director of athletics Jared Sumsion may have gotten the best guy to take over as the new Wolverine baseball coach — but he doesn’t have him quite yet.
The university announced Thursday that Eddie Smith has been hired to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of long-time coach Eric Madsen. Before Smith can dive into the job, however, he has some unfinished business to take care of.
He is currently the hitting coach at LSU and the Tigers are currently competing in the NCAA Regionals in Eugene, Oregon.
“I am going to continue with LSU here, hopefully for about four more weeks, and make a great run with the Tigers,” Smith said in a media teleconference on Thursday. “Then I’ll turn the page to total focus on Utah Valley.”
Although the Wolverines got permission to make Thursday’s announcement about Smith’s next stop, they also emphasized that they respect that he has another job to complete first.
“We want the LSU baseball community to know that we want to be really respectful of the LSU program,” Sumsion said. “Coach Smith is solely focused right now on LSU baseball and his Tiger players. LSU has been so great working with us through this process. We want everyone to know Coach Smith’s focus right now is on the LSU Tigers.”
While that means UVU has to be patient, the Wolverines emphasized that they are excited about adding Smith to the athletic department.
“It’s an exciting day for Utah Valley University baseball,” Sumsion said. “We are ecstatic to introduce Eddie. This has been an interesting time in Utah Valley baseball history and we know Coach Smith is going to take us where we want to be. We are so excited to have a coach of Eddie’s caliber who wants to be with us and knows where he can take this program.”
Sumsion said the school has good athletes who need someone who has got “grit and toughness.”
“That’s what we were looking for in this search,” Sumsion said. “We had over 75 applicants from all across the country but Coach Smith stood out. When he was on campus visiting, he didn’t just sell us on the process but he sold us on who he is and how he believes in our student-athletes. That was the defining characteristic on why Coach Smith was selected to be our coach because he loves the student-athlete. He believes in them both on and off the field. He is a coach who epitomizes everything we were looking for.”
Smith called it an “honor” to be the baseball coach at UVU.
“This is a day that I have thought of a lot throughout my professional career, getting to be a Division I head baseball coach,” Smith said. “I couldn’t imagine a place that has more in place to go have success right now. The facility is just beautiful. There is potential for getting very good baseball players onto that campus because of that facility. It has everything we need to develop there as ball players.”
Smith was obviously enamored with being able to sell players on the possibilities in Orem because he feels the tools are there to get guys to be their best.
“They can be pushed to their maximum potential and as a coach that’s my goal for them,” Smith said. “I think that’s one thing that really stood out. I also saw a school and administration that’s committed to the student-athlete, to building the person as a whole. That aligns a lot with what is important to me.”
Smith did take time to have a virtual meeting with the current Wolverine players on Thursday immediately after the official announcement and introduce himself.
“I spent about 15 minutes with them sharing the vision and hopefully it was clear how excited I am about this,” Smith said. “I see this as a piece of clay that is just ready to be molded. The foundation is there. The play is quality quality play and I shared that with the players. I look forward to working with them, setting the standard, understanding what the expectations are talking about some traits that we want to be identified by and some of the steps as we go forward here.”