PDT Sports Writer
When Jeff Hamilton walked by Robin Hagen-Smith in between Shawnee State’s men’s and women’s basketball games, he noticed something was wrong.
A day later, Hamilton — the men’s basketball coach and athletic director — found out his intuition was true. Hagen-Smith, who has built the Bears women’s basketball team to a national power each year, took an immediate indefinite leave of absence Friday, citing personal issues. Her husband, assistant coach Gregg Smith, has also requested for time off from the program.
“She thought she had some personal issues that she needed to take care of that maybe was preventing her from giving the attention that she needed to her team,” Hamilton said in an interview with the Daily Times.
Assistant coach Jeff Lloyd, who has been on staff for seven years, will take over on an interim basis. Hamilton does not know at this time if or when she will return to the sidelines, but mentioned a clearer picture may be created after a few days.
While the move was swift, it wasn’t a total bombshell. Hamilton said Hagen-Smith eluded to the team of her intentions after Thursday night’s 85-58 home loss to Georgetown.
“(Friday) morning, I met with her we talked about some things and felt that this was probably in the best interest of everybody involved,” Hamilton said. “Just give her some time to take a step back from her role as women’s basketball coach.”
Hamilton did say the issue did not involve any disciplinary actions involving the school. During the 11 seasons both Hamilton and Hagen-Smith have been the head coaches of their respective coaches, it’s the first time Hamilton has noticed her take a leave of absence, further explaining there weren’t any overt signs of the decision coming.
“I think there were a lot of factors (on her leaving) but none of it is disciplinary or anything like that,” Hamilton said. “It’s strictly voluntary on her part that again she felt like she needed to have some time to prioritize some of the things she was doing. She’s an awfully good coach and has been for a very long time.
“I think it came to a point where she has certain expectations of how things should go or what things should be like. I think it got to a point where she just needed some time to reevaluate that.”
In her 30-plus seasons as the Shawnee State coach, Hagen-Smith has collected 633 coaching victories on the NAIA level, won seven Coach of the Year awards on the conference level, two nationally and one statewide. She guided the Bears to the 1998-99 NAIA Division II National Championship has been inducted into five Halls of Fame.
Lloyd’s first game as the interim coach will be Saturday’s home conference game with St. Catharine. After the game, the Bears will be on a five-game road trip before playing two of their final three games at home to close the regular season.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.