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St. Mary's Kyle Smith hired as Columbia's coach

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia hired Saint Mary's assistant Kyle Smith as its men's basketball coach on Sunday.

The 40-year-old Smith replaced Joe Jones, who left to become a Boston College assistant.

"I am very excited to be the next head men's basketball coach at Columbia, one of the nation's premier universities," said Smith in a statement.

Smith was an associate head coach on a St. Mary's team that reached the regional semifinals of this season's NCAA tournament. The 10th-seeded Gaels of California upset Richmond and second-seeded Villanova before losing to Baylor. It was the school's first NCAA tournament victory since 1959.

"Columbia University is very proud and excited to name Kyle Smith as our head men's basketball coach," said athletic director Dr. M. Dianne Murphy. "Kyle is an outstanding leader and successful recruiter with a terrific basketball mind. We are thrilled to welcome him to Columbia."

When Smith first arrived at Saint Mary's in 2001, the team had won only two games in the previous season. Over the past three years, the Gaels have won 81 games — the 10th most in the nation over that span.

Jones was 86-108 overall and 39-59 in the Ivy League in seven years at Columbia. This season, the Lions went 11-17, including 5-9 in the Ivy League. Columbia's only Ivy League basketball title was in 1967-68.

The Lions return their leading scorer Noruwa Agho, who averaged 16.3 points this season.

Smith, who will be the third new coach in the Ivy League next season, will be introduced at a press conference Wednesday.