Smith no longer Women’s Basketball Head Coach at Cornell

Dr. Nicki Moore, the Meakem Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education, announced Monday that there will be a change in leadership of the Cornell Women’s Basketball team, effective immediately. Dayna Smith, the longest tenured coach in the Ivy League and the program leader in career wins, has spent the past 21 years directing the program.

Moore stated, “Dayna Smith has led the Big Red women’s basketball program for more than two decades with integrity and drive, dedicating herself to developing successful student-athletes on and off the court. She is a well-respected coach, a well-liked colleague and a true ambassador for the game of basketball. I thank her for her service to Cornell athletics, and wish her the very best. Coach Smith will always be an important part of this program’s history.”

A national search for Smith’s successor will begin immediately. Associate head coach Val Klopfer will serve as interim head coach during the transition.

After being named as the seventh head coach in program history in 2002, Smith went on to rank atop Cornell’s all-time list for wins (224), making her one of just six Ivy League women’s basketball coaches in history to surpass 200 victories. She guided the Big Red to its only Ivy League title and NCAA Tournament appearance in program history in 2008 as part of a 20-win season, and guided the 2019 squad to an Ivy League Tournament appearance after being picked eighth in the conference in the preseason. In 2003, the head coaching position was endowed as the Rebecca Quinn Morgan ’60 Head Coach. Overall, Smith compiled a 224-345 record over 21 years on the Big Red sidelines, ranking among the top 20 in coaching wins all-time at Cornell in any sport.

During her tenure, Smith coached 32 All-Ivy League players, five Academic All-District selections and a pair of Senior CLASS Award candidates. Jeomi Maduka ’09 was named Ivy League Player of the Year and became the first All-American in school history in 2008. Her players hold nearly every individual school record and make up six of the school’s 15 1,000-point career scorers, including Cornell’s all-time leading scorer in Nia Marshall ’17. Three of her former student-athletes (Karen Force ’04, Maduka ’09 and Lauren Benson ’10) have been elected to the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame.

“As I look back on more than 20 years of people and moments, I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have served as head basketball coach at Cornell,” Smith said. “I have a lifetime of memories created and friendships built. I’m especially proud of all that my student-athletes have accomplished at Cornell and all that they’ll continue to do in the future. I want to thank Andy Noel for giving me the opportunity to become a head coach, the Cornell administration for supporting me over the years, and my assistant coaches and support staff who dedicated themselves to this program and will forever be part of my family.”

“The Ivy League has become one of the preeminent women’s basketball conferences in the country,” Moore said. “As we embark on a new leg of this journey, we do so with unwavering confidence in our ability to discover an exceptional leader who will embrace the ideals of the Ivy League and Cornell University, and who will cultivate, prepare and propel extraordinary student-athletes toward academic and basketball achievement as well as lifelong success and wellbeing.”

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