Springfield, Ohio –During its Oct. 19-20 meeting, the Wittenberg University Board of Directors unanimously resolved to name the arena, located inside the campus’ Health, Physical Education and Recreation Center (HPERC), in memory of Pam Evans Smith, legendary women’s head basketball coach, who passed away in June following a long battle with cancer.
In making the decision, the board cited Smith’s outstanding instruction, coaching and administration at her alma mater, noting that she “served with distinction as associate director of athletics, senior woman administrator and head women’s basketball coach.”
Smith also, the board resolution stated, “amassed more victories than any other coach —male or female — in the history of Tiger Athletics, and she was an inspiration to all who knew her. To memorialize her remarkable gift of self to her students, her athletes, her colleagues and to the community at-large, the HPERC Arena will henceforth be known as Pam Evans Smith Arena.”
Formerly called the “new gym” until its name change earlier this year, the Arena served as home court for Smith and the players she loved to coach. Upon learning of her passing, friends, colleagues, players and parents posted numerous sentiments and touching tributes on a memorial Web site.
“She is the epitome of courage and was a tower of strength,” wrote one. “She was a fighter, tremendously motivated and highly competitive. She was a wonderful coach and an even better person. She made every single one of her players a better person and left a tremendous legacy.”
One of the premier women’s basketball coaches in NCAA
Division III, Smith took over a moribund program in 1986-87 and
turned it into one of the winningest programs in the country with
twelve 20-win seasons between 1989 and 2007. The seven-time North
Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Coach of the Year also compiled a
401-170 career record, led the Tigers to eight appearances in the
NCAA Division III tournament and won 11 NCAC regular season
championships. In 1999, Smith was inducted into Wittenberg’s
Athletics Hall of Honor in recognition of her standout playing
career, leadership in the athletics department and consistency as a
Smith, a 1982 alumna of Wittenberg, was named head coach at her alma mater in 1986 after a standout career in a Tiger uniform from 1979-82. While a player at Wittenberg, Smith was selected second-team Academic All-America as a senior and the Most Valuable Player of the basketball team for three seasons. She was the Tigers' all-time leading scorer until her record was broken by one of her players, Margaret Grammas, during the 1988-89 season, though Smith still holds records for scoring average.
Smith earned a B.A. in biology at Wittenberg and then went on to earn a master's degree in physical education with an emphasis on exercise physiology from Ithaca College in 1986. From 1982 to 1984 Smith coached at her high school alma mater, Greenhills in suburban Cincinnati. A graduate assistant coach at Ithaca College in 1984-85, Smith later coached prep basketball at West Essex High School in New Jersey.
Smith, who added the roles of associate athletics director and senior woman administrator in 1992, also served as an instructor in Wittenberg's department of health, fitness and sport. Smith is survived by her husband of 10 years, Roger.
A committee has been formed to work out the details surrounding the dedication ceremony, which the university anticipates will be held early next semester.
Written By: Karen Gerboth