INEZ - It was the worst kept secret in the region, but now it is official. Frankie Smith is leaving as the head boys’ basketball coach for Mingo Central High School.
Smith was introduced to the fans at Sheldon Clark Friday night during the Cardinals football game as their new head coach.
Smith was hired this past summer as the second head coach at Mingo Central. The job was left vacant after Duane Estepp left to move back to Lincoln County.
Smith had this statement on Saturday morning: “It has been a very difficult decision. I want to thank the Mingo County Board of Education and the administration and staff at Mingo Central for their professionalism and respect. Deborah Harris, Teresa Jones and Lisa Teeters have been the best administration that I have worked with at any level. As a father, husband and professional, my family is and always will be my top priority. I wish the Mingo Central Miners nothing but success, and I am excited about what lies ahead.”
“As principal, I am very disappointed that Coach Smith is leaving us. He is an excellent teacher and coach. I wish him luck in the future (unless he’s playing the Miners, of course). I am sure that by the time that basketball season begins, we will have another exceptional coach in place. Our school will come together behind the new coach, just as we have with Coach Smith,” Mingo Central principal Deborah Harris said.
Smith was also teaching Physical Education at MCHS.
Mingo basketball boosters president Steven “Tib” Cook issued this statement. “We recruited Frankie very hard and were proud to have him as our coach for a short time. It was hard to see him leave. He became a very close friend. But now we must find a way to keep building our program. I am very confident that our administration will bring us another coach that will help lead us from Midget league to high school. We have a great group of kids returning to play and we have a very strong boosters club. Everything will be just fine.”
Last spring, Smith finished his fifth season as head coach at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. He was hired as the seventh head men’s basketball coach at that school in August, 2007. Smith went to SVSU after serving as an assistant coach at Miami University (Ohio).
Prior to Miami University job, Smith posted a 125-35 (.781) career record during his six-year stint as the head coach at Tug Valley High School in Naugatuck. He guided the 1998-99 Panthers to West Virginia’s Class AA state championship, which was the school’s first state crown.
Sheldon Clark had recently lost Kevin Spurlock to Perry County Central. So then representatives from the Martin County School contacted Smith about two weeks ago and started courting him for the basketball position at SCHS.
Reportedly Smith will make $30,000 more a year at the Kentucky school. Smith leaves without ever coaching a game at Mingo Central.
Now the search will begin for a new coach for the Miners.