Mike Smith stepped down as the head softball coach at Ole Miss on Sunday night.
Smith, who will leave with an overall record of 187-112, will have his time in Oxford end with a cloud of what the university called “cultural” concerns when he was placed on administrative leave in November.
At the time, athletic director Keith Carter referred to the situation as a “personnel matter” and hoped to complete an internal audit in a timely manner.
It was not the first time Smith had been asked to step away from this team, after he was suspended for the opening series of the 2019 season for undisclosed reasons. He was shortly reinstated and led the program to its second Super Regional appearance, in its fourth-consecutive postseason birth.
Though details of the investigation have yet to (and may never) be released, the decision has been made. Smith will no longer coach at Ole Miss.
“We are committed to a healthy culture and overall experience for our student-athletes,” said Carter in a statement. “Our primary focus is to foster success for everyone involved with our program, on and off the field, while continuing our rise as one of the premier softball programs in the nation. Coach Smith helped establish our softball program as a national contender and we wish him all the best.”
What may be the most interesting component of Smith’s resignation, comes with his replacement. In the interim, Ruben Felix will assume head coach responsibility.
However, Carter, who was named full-time athletic director on November 22nd, now faces Ole Miss athletics’ third head coach vacancy in as little time. As of this moment it is unknown whether Carter will look to keep Felix on beyond temporary status, or conduct a search beyond the confines of current staff.
Either way, Carter has another defining decision in front of him and it will be curious to see where he turns.