Former SEC Coach of the Year Talked
Barkley, Value of Integrity
MELBOURNE, FLA. — More than 100 guests gathered in the Hartley Room recently for the 2016 Basketball Tip-Off Dinner, where legendary Auburn University basketball coach Sonny Smith spoke about his Hall of Fame career.
A tradition that heralds the start of Florida Tech Panther basketball, the Tip-Off event featured dinner from Athletics sponsor Carabba’s Italian Grill.
Smith, a two-time Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year and member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, led the Auburn Tigers for 11 seasons, including the most sustained run of excellence in team history. With a roster that included future NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, Smith guided the Tigers to five consecutive NCAA tournament appearances from 1984 to 1988, including a Sweet 16 berth in 1985 and a Final Eight berth in 1986. He remains the only coach in Auburn men’s basketball history to have three consecutive 20-win seasons, from 1984-86.
During his presentation at the Tip-Off Dinner, Smith talked about his days coaching Barkley. He said he had players back then who had just as much potential but weren’t able to conduct themselves as team players or exemplary student-athletes so that even with their talent, they failed to progress to professional careers.
Smith spoke of the power of integrity in athletes, as well. He said that after watching the Florida Tech Panthers practice, he believes the university has a winning team with a lot of talent, heart and integrity.