Western Carolina Chancellor Dr. John W. Bardo announced on August 23, 2004 the selection of Chip Smith as the Catamounts' Director of Athletics.
His first year on the job at Western was an eventful one as Western's football team won the Old Mountain Jug with a 30-27 victory over Appalachian State in the fall of 2004, the Lady Catamount basketball team won the 2005 Southern Conference tournament championship and the WCU soccer team won the 2005 SoCon tournament title. In the spring, Western hosted the 2005 SoCon Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which was lauded for its organization and atmosphere.
In addition to overseeing the start of a new program (softball and the construction of the program's new stadium), Smith laid the foundation for the success of three sports, hiring head coaches for men's basketball, volleyball and soccer during 2005. A review of Western Carolina's 2005-06 athletic year shows that foundation was solid. In addition to winning Southern Conference championships in soccer, men's indoor track & field, men's outdoor track & field and softball, Western played for a share of the SoCon title in football, falling to eventual national champion Appalachian State in the final regular-season game, and the Catamount baseball team was the only school in the nation to have non-conference road wins over two 2006 College World Series teams (Clemson and Georgia). WCU student-athletes earned a league-best 118 All-SoCon honors on the field, not including numerous SoCon academic honors and four SoCon Coach of the Year selections. Off the field, in addition to accumulating 1,537 hours of community service, Catamount student-athletes have posted a cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.01 for their careers.
Smith came to Western after two years as athletics director at Morehead State. He additionally was director of athletics at Eastern Kentucky University, as well as holding positions in the athletics departments at Virginia Military Institute, UNC Charlotte and University of North Carolina.
A native of Greensboro who grew up in Siler City, Smith earned his bachelor's degree in education at North Carolina in 1978, where he played football for four years under legendary coach Bill Dooley. He earned his master's degree in athletics administration at North Carolina in 1989.
He began his career in athletics as a high school teacher and coach, first at Hickory High School and then at Garinger High School in Charlotte. He worked as ticket manager for the Durham Bulls baseball club before joining the Educational Foundation Inc., at North Carolina in 1983 as assistant to the executive director of the athletics fund-raising organization also known as the Rams Club.
Smith was a member of the athletics department administration at UNC Charlotte from 1984 though 1991, first as business and ticket manager, then as assistant athletic director for development. He joined the staff of Southern Conference member VMI in 1991 as assistant athletics director, advancing to associate athletics director. He joined the administration at Eastern Kentucky University in 1999, rising to the position of director of athletics in 2001. He has served as director of athletics at Morehead State since August 2002.
Smith is married to the former Gale Thompson, who swam collegiately at North Carolina. They have two children; daughter Chesley (20), who is a junior at UNC Greensboro, and a son, Cort (16), who is a sophomore at Smoky Mountain High School.