New athletic director will be named Wednesday

Western Carolina University will introduce its next director of athletics to the media and the public during a press conference scheduled for 11 a.m. on Wednesday (Dec. 14) in the Peele, Westmoreland Suhre, Hartshorn Hospitality Room of the Liston B. Ramsey Regional Activity Center.

The event will include remarks from WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher; Shea Browning, the chair of the athletics director search committee; and the new leader of the Catamount athletics program. Light refreshments will be served.

A community meet-and-greet session will also be held at 6:00 pm on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at O’Malley’s of Sylva.

The new director of athletics replaces Chip Smith, who was fired on Tuesday, Oct. 25 by WCU Chancellor David O. Belcher. The announcement at the time came on the heels of many Catamount fans and sports columnists calling for a change in the athletic department after questionable coaching hires the past few years and continuing poor performance on the football field this season.

Smith came to WCU as director of athletics in September 2004 from Morehead State University, where he also was director of athletics. Previously, he was director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University and held administrative appointments at Virginia Military Institute and University of North Carolina campuses at Charlotte and Chapel Hill.

Smith’s salary for the 2011-12 school year was $138,982 according to Western Carolina University budget figures. His contract was set to expire on May 25, 2012.