Dow is out, E.J. needs to be in

Miles Jordan, [email protected]

ULM is back in the job market for a women’s basketball head coach after current head coach Jeff Dow announced that there would be no extension after his contract expires after the season.

In May of 2014, the Warhawks were on the hunt for a new women’s basketball coach after the great Mona Martin announced her retirement after 19 years.

ULM made a decision then to hire Jeff Dow. The hire made sense at the time. He was coming off an 108-40 record at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Since 2014, the hire has been immensely successful off the court as the Warhawks have consistently been academically successful with up to as many as eight players on the Sun Belt Commissioner’s list, which is a GPA of 3.5 or above.

On the court, it’s been a different story as the team has never finished over .500 with Dow at the helm. Worse than that, the team has just been plain bad especially during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 season where the team won 10 games total and ended the 2017-2018 year with 16 straight loses.

The move makes sense for both parties. The next step and the next coach is an easy decision as well. ULM must promote associate head basketball coach and ULM legend, E.J. Lee Smith to head coach.

Smith has been a part of the program since the 1980s when she was a star for some of the greatest teams in school history. She helped lead the Warhawks to the Final Four during her playing days, won four consecutive Southland Player of Year awards and is a Louisiana Sports Hall of Famer.

Obviously, on-court success is not always a sign for coaching success as we’ve seen many great basketball players burn out as coaches like Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas in their coaching stints.

What differentiates Smith, though, is she is already responsible for a lot of what the job entails. She scouts opponents, recruits, helps guards and is the head coaches right-hand. Her ability to hop right into the head coaching position would not be surprising at all.

Beyond all the  possible success Smith could have, the university owes it to her. Smith is arguably the reason ULM is on the map athletically. Smith has also waited her turn. She’s been a part of the program for a  whopping     28 years.

It is the university’s time to admit old mistakes, and admit to themselves and everyone else that E.J. Lee Smith is the next head coach as long as she’ll take it.