Richard Schmidt is entering his 33rd season as The University of Tampa head men’s basketball coach, where he has led the Spartans to a total of 29 winning seasons. The UT Athletic Hall of Fame induction in October 2004, Schmidt received the much deserved reward after more than two decades of success and contributions to the basketball program.
He has compiled a school record of 570-254 (.692) with a 254-143 (.640) record in the Sunshine State Conference. Before Schmidt’s arrival, UT basketball posted a 207-315 record (.397).
With an all-time overall record of 598-281 (.680), Schmidt earned his 500th career victory on Dec. 12, 2005 with a 67-58 victory over Eckerd. He became the 116th coach in NCAA history to reach the 500 victory milestone and the seventh in NCAA II. He also registered his 500th Spartan victory at Lynn on Feb. 17, 2007.
While serving as the head coach at Vanderbilt for two seasons from 1979-81, Schmidt guided the Commodores to a sixth place finish in the SEC in his first season. Highlighting his rookie season campaign were victories over LSU, Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and Georgia. In his second season at Vanderbilt, Schmidt led his team to a 60-55 victory over Kentucky in the SEC Tournament before falling in the SEC Finals to Mississippi State. The 1980-81 season featured victories over notable opponents including Iowa State, Memphis, Alabama, Georgia, Auburn and Florida.
Schmidt came to Tampa in 1982 to resurrect a program that had been dormant for 13 years. His first season (1983-84), he took a starting lineup of one junior and four freshman and won the Sunshine State Conference tournament and the accompanying bid to the NCAA Division II tournament, en route to a 20-11 season. It was the first time in NCAA history that a first-year team (in any division) made the national tournament. His teams have made 14 NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2001 season, when he guided Tampa to the NCAA Final Four, where the Spartans fell to national champion Kentucky Wesleyan by one-point in overtime. The following season, in 2001-02, Schmidt guided his team to a 26-3 overall record while tying his school record for victories in a season with the 1986-87 and 1989-90 squads.
Under Schmidt’s direction the Spartans have finished first or second in the SSC all but seven years. He was voted South Region Coach of the Year following the 1985-86 season and was named the Sunshine State Conference Coach of the Year in 1986, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2000, and 2002.
Among the outstanding players who have adorned Tampa’s red, black and gold under Schmidt are the 2008 SSC Player of the Year Jeremy Black, 2006 SSC Player-of-the-Year and all-time career assist leader Mark Borders, 2002 SSC Player of the Year Jon Brown, 1998 SSC Player of the Year Tamari Thompson, 1995 SSC Player of the Year Idris Mays, three-time All-American and two-time Division II Player of the Year Todd Linder, NBA veteran Nate Johnston, two-time All-American and NCAA record holder Bryan Williams and SSC scoring champions Drexel and DeCarlo Deveaux, the latter also a two-time All-American and SSC Player of the Year.
A 1964 graduate of Western Kentucky University, Schmidt began his playing career at Westport High School in Louisville. In 1969, he became head coach at Ballard High School where he built a dynasty for the next eight years. Twice voted Kentucky’s outstanding high school coach and three-time Louisville prep Coach of the Year, Schmidt led Ballard to a 183-32 record during his tenure. His teams earned six district titles in addition to the 1977 Kentucky State Championship. In all, he sent 21 players to college on full scholarships.
After winning the state crown in 1977, Schmidt moved to the collegiate coaching ranks as an assistant to Terry Holland at the University of Virginia. The Cavaliers participated in the National Invitation Tournament in each of his two seasons (1978-79) at Virginia and compiled a record of 39-18.
A professional aviculturist, Schmidt breeds exotic birds (some of which he’s sold to Wayne Newton) and keeps well over 100 in his backyard aviary. Recognized worldwide as an expert in the field, Schmidt’s interest has taken him to China and Indonesia.
Richard is married to Mary Jo and they have two children, Steven and Staci, and seven grandchildren.