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Bison coach takes Mayville job

Craig Smith's office at the Bison Sports Arena is tucked away near the rafters in the old press box. This week, he'll move into something more visible.

Craig Smith's office at the Bison Sports Arena is tucked away near the rafters in the old press box. This week, he'll move into something more visible.

"I won't have to walk 68 steps every time," he said.

The North Dakota State assistant men's basketball coach was named the head coach at Mayville State (N.D.), a place where his career began. He was a Comet assistant in 1996-97.

That team, coached by current NDSU head coach Tim Miles, won a conference championship. This team is coming off a one-win season.

"Recruiting will be a humongous deal," Smith said. "That will be the biggest part of the job immediately. I've got to get in there, evaluate and see what we need to do and where we need to go. Obviously, there will be a ton of work in the recruiting end of it."

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Smith also spent time at Northern State (S.D.) and Minot State (N.D.). He's been at NDSU since 2001, where he was director of basketball operations, a title that included scheduling, academic monitoring, player development, media and public relations.

"He's wanted to be a head coach, and the timing is right," Miles said. "Mayville is ready to rebound. It's a win-win situation. It's great thing for Craig and a great thing for Mayville. It's like they're hiring one of their own."

Smith takes over for Terry Layton, the school's athletic director. Mayville State President Pamela Balch said in a statement she was impressed with Smith's preparation for the interview, his enthusiasm and his recruiting ability.

Smith said the commitment of the Mayville administration to athletics will help the transition. He cites the recent renovation of Lewy Lee Fieldhouse as an example.

"When I look at a position, the first thing I look at is leadership at the top," Smith said. "With President Balch on board, I think she's very committed to athletics, and I think they made a commitment to me. I can't wait to get going."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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