On this day in Alabama history: Auburn Tigers basketball coach Sonny Smith was born

On this day in Alabama history: Auburn Tigers basketball coach Sonny Smith was born
Sonny Smith was Auburn's head basketball coach for 22 seasons. (Doug Pensinger/Allsport)

Nov. 15, 1931

On this date, former Auburn men’s basketball coach Sonny Smith was born in Roan Mountain, Tennessee. He served as a head coach for 22 seasons and is credited with turning around losing programs at East Tennessee State UniversityAuburn University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

He’s best remembered for his coaching years at Auburn University and was named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 1984 and 1989. In 1985, he coached the Auburn Tigers to their first SEC Tournament Championship in school history. During his years at Auburn, he coached NBA Hall of Fame player Charles Barkley and was the only coach in school history to have three consecutive winning seasons, from 1984-86. Bruce Pearl matched that record in 2019.  Smith was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 3, 2007.

After retiring from coaching, Smith joined his friend and former University of Alabama coach Wimp Sanderson on a sports talk radio show “The Sonny and Wimp Show” on WJOX in Birmingham.

Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

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