Mott Community College’s Steve Schmidt interested in CMU basketball coaching job
A 2006 finalist for the head men’s basketball coaching job at Central Michigan University is interested in the job again.
Steve Schmidt, head coach at Flint’s Mott Community College, said he has not been contacted by CMU, but is “absolutely” open to becoming the program’s next coach.
“I would be interested,” Schmidt told Central Michigan Life Friday by phone. “It’d be an honor to be considered and I’d love to coach there.”
Schmidt, in his 21st season as coach at Mott, is prepping his team for another run at a junior college national title. He’s brought the Bears to the championship game six times (winning three), won 14 conference titles, eight state titles and amassed a 568-123 overall record.
MCC is 31-1 this season, winning conference, state and regional titles, and opens the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II tournament as the No. 1 seed Tuesday against Danville Area (Ill.) Community College.
“As you could imagine, my focus is leading the Mott program to the national tournament,” Schmidt said. “In fairness to my kids, they deserve 100 percent of my attention going after this national title.”
While Schmidt tries to remain focused on the postseason, this isn’t the first time he’s made public statements about wanting to coach at the Division I level. In February, he told the Flint Journal one unfulfilled goal in his career is “to coach guys for four years.”
“I still have a lot of energy left, so it may still happen,” he told The Journal. “I don’t want people to think I’m trying to leave Mott, but it’s just some things that I have unfinished in my own coaching career.”
Schmidt is no stranger to CMU basketball, either. A former player on the team and supporter of the program, Schmidt was interviewed for the head coaching job in 2006 after then-coach Jay Smith abruptly resigned following the 2005-06 season. Ernie Zeigler, who was fired Wednesday after going 75-111 in six seasons at CMU, was later hired.
Schmidt said he knows Zeigler personally — he’s attended fundraising events for the program in the past — but declined to comment on his tenure, saying he doesn’t like to comment on other coaches.
“You don’t like to see anyone else lose their job,” he said. “I was a candidate when he got hired, and it was good going through that process.”
One vital part of the recruiting process, something Schmidt has been praised for at two-year school Mott, is facilities. Since he interviewed in 2006, CMU has rolled out its $22 million Events Center and new practice gymnasium all while attracting some of the best recruiting classes — based on preseason polls — in program history.
Schmidt called the facility upgrades “impressive,” and had the opportunity to experience them in person this season when he attended a game in February with friend and former teammate Pete Lambropoulos, who helped spearhead the Dick Parfitt Gymnasium project.
“I love what they’ve done,” Schmidt said. “I’ve played at Rose Arena and thought it was great then … but they’ve done an outstanding job with that whole facility.”
In a news conference Wednesday following Zeigler’s firing, CMU athletics director Dave Heeke would not rule out going to the junior college route to find a coach.
“I’m open to the right person,” Heeke said. “I will not limit who we search and who we look for based on whether they’re a head coach or assistant coach. I’m looking for the right fit.
“I do think somebody is going to have to recruit. Recruiting is the lifeblood of college basketball. I want someone who is passionate about this program and will invest in it and develop a winning standard here.”
Follow Aaron McMann on Twitter @AaronMcMann or email him: email@example.com.
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