Smith Named Head Women’s Basketball Coach at Cal

Charmin Smith, a mainstay on the Golden Bear bench for the last 12 seasons, has agreed to become the head women’s basketball coach at the University of California, Berkeley, Director of Athletics Jim Knowlton announced on Friday.

Smith will be formally introduced at a press conference Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the Field Club at California Memorial Stadium.

Smith becomes the 10th head coach in Cal women’s basketball history after spending the last 12 seasons as an assistant on the Golden Bear staff, including serving as the program’s associate head coach since 2012. Cal has had ten 20-win seasons and made nine trips to the NCAA Tournament since Smith’s arrival in Berkeley in 2007, highlighted by the program’s first trip to the Final Four in 2013.

“I am extremely excited that Charmin has agreed to lead our women’s basketball program,” Knowlton said. “With a dozen years as a member of our staff under both Joanne Boyle and Lindsay Gottlieb, she has a deep understanding of Cal and Cal basketball. She has played an integral role in the most successful seasons in our history, including trips to multiple NCAA Tournaments, a Final Four and a Pac-12 championship. Charmin is committed to supporting student-athletes in all aspects of their lives, helping them thrive academically, athletically and personally, and she has a clear vision that builds upon the foundation already established here in Berkeley. Charmin has prepared her entire career for this opportunity, and I believe she is ready to lead our program to even greater heights.”

Highly-regarded throughout the coaching ranks at both the collegiate and professional levels, Smith has played a key role in building Cal into one of the premier programs on the West Coast, handling duties from recruiting and scheduling, to alumni engagement and campus equity and inclusion. She has served on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Board of Directors and was hired in April 2019 to serve as an assistant coach for the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

“I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead this program and the amazing young women in it,” Smith said. “I am grateful to Jim Knowlton for trusting me to keep building the tradition of excellence that is Cal basketball. I also cannot thank Katie Smith enough for giving me the opportunity to coach alongside her in the WNBA as well as General Manager Jonathan Kolb for trusting her hire. The experience with the New York Liberty only furthered my passion for and commitment to the game. Berkeley has been my home for the last 12 years and has made a lasting mark on my life. I am incredibly proud of what this program has already accomplished under the direction of both Joanne and Lindsay, and I am thrilled to continue the work of preparing our student-athletes for success both on the court and beyond.”

On the hardwood, Smith has helped coach the Bears to the top three individual seasons in program history. In her first two years in Berkeley, Cal set then-school records for wins in a season, finishing both years with 27-7 marks before Cal pushed itself into elite status with the record-breaking 32-4 Final Four campaign in 2012-13. The Bears also recorded their best Pac-12 record (17-1) and won their first conference regular-season crown that season. Smith has helped lead the Bears to the postseason in 11 of her 12 seasons and was also part of the staff that led the Bears to the 2010 WNIT championship.

Smith arrived at Cal for the 2007-08 under head coach Joanne Boyle and remained on staff when Lindsay Gottlieb became head coach in 2011-12. Over the course of her tenure, she has played a key role in the Bears’ player development, which has seen Cal produce seven WNBA Draft picks in recent years, including guards Layshia Clarendon, a 2017 WNBA All-Star and the ninth overall pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft, and Brittany Boyd, who earned WNBA All-Rookie recognition after being drafted ninth overall in 2015. More recently, Smith has worked extensively with Cal’s post players, including 2019 National Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-American Kristine Anigwe, who was selected by the Connecticut Sun with the ninth overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft.

Of the 14 McDonald’s All-Americans in Cal women’s basketball history, Smith has helped sign 12 of them since joining the Cal staff in 2007, including an impressive haul in 2009 with a class that featured four All-Americans that served as the foundation to the Bears’ 2013 NCAA Final Four run. Cal has put together five top-20 recruiting classes in Smith’s tenure, which includes top-five classes in both 2009 and 2011.

A St. Louis native, Smith was a star player for Stanford from 1993-97, helping the Cardinal to three NCAA Final Fours and three Pac-10 titles. A four-year letterwinner at Stanford, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the school.

Following her collegiate playing career, Smith joined the professional ranks in the ABL from 1997-98 as a member of the Portland Power and played three years in the WNBA, along with one year in the Swedish Basketball League. She began her coaching career in 2003 as an assistant coach at Boston College, where she spent one season before joining Tara Vanderveer’s coaching staff at Stanford.

During Smith’s tenure as an assistant with Stanford, the Cardinal posted an 87-16 (.845) record and made a pair of NCAA Elite Eight appearances. Smith played an integral role in the development of three of the Pac-10’s top posts – Brooke Smith, Jayne Appel and Kristen Newlin – and in the spring of 2007, she switched her focus to working with the Cardinal guards, including three-time Pac-10 Player of the Year Candice Wiggins. After three years, Smith left the Farm for Berkeley and joined the Golden Bear staff for the 2007-08 season.

Photo Courtesy Cal Athletics

Tagged with: