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April 7, 2004

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Audra Smith, who has played an integral role in the success of the University of Virginia women’s basketball program for 15 years – both as a player and coach – has been named head women’s basketball coach at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, according to an announcement by Blazers’ Director of Athletics Watson Brown.

Smith replaces Jeannie Milling who was relieved of her duties as head coach March 10 after 17 seasons at UAB.

Smith, a native of Milledgeville, Ga., has been an assistant coach under head coach Debbie Ryan on the Cavaliers’ staff since 1994. She spent her first two seasons as a restricted earning coach before being promoted to full-time assistant two years later. In 2000, she was promoted to recruiting coordinator.

As a player at Virginia, she was a member of Cavalier teams that earned three consecutive trips to the NCAA Final Four (1990, 1991 and 1992). Virginia reached the championship game in 1991, falling 70-67 in overtime to Tennessee.

Virginia won six straight Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season championships from 1991-96. As a coach with the Cavaliers, Smith helped Virginia to nine consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (1995-2003), four NCAA Sweet 16 appearances (1995-97, 2000); two NCAA Elite Eight appearances (1995-96); and three ACC regular season titles (1995-96, 2000). Seventeen Cavalier players have been named to the ACC Academic Honor Roll a total of 28 times.

“We are fortunate and extremely excited to have attracted a coach the caliber of Audra Smith,” said Brown. “Needless to say, we are delighted to have Audra coming on board to lead our women’s program. She has a vast range of experience and been around successful basketball during her entire playing and coaching careers.

“With everyone we spoke to about Audra, the message was the same,” Brown said. “She is an outstanding coach and a first-class individual. We know she will be an outstanding representative of our University and athletics program.”

While at Virginia, Smith has played for and coached under one of women’s college basketball’s most successful coaches in Ryan. The long-time Cavaliers’ head coach feels the future is extremely bright for Smith.

“UAB is getting an exceptional coach, but an even better person,” said Ryan, who has averaged almost 22 wins a season in 27 seasons as head coach. “She is an up-and-coming coach in college basketball and she will not let UAB down. UAB has done itself proud to hire Audra to lead its program.”

In going to UAB, Smith will be returning to a region familiar to her. Smith grew up in middle Georgia and went on to become an outstanding prep basketball player at Baldwin High School from 1986-88. She earned Miss Georgia Basketball honors in 1988 and played a large role as a member of three consecutive Georgia AAAA state championship teams (1986, 1987 and 1988). She was MVP of the 1987 Georgia state tournament.

After graduating from Virginia in 1992 with a degree in sociology, she worked as a Child and Adolescent Counselor and as a social worker with the Department of Family and Children Services in Milledgeville, Ga. From there she returned to begin her coaching career in Charlottesville where she has remained until now.

“I have been associated with the University of Virginia for 15 years and I’ve worked for one of the best coaches in women’s college basketball,” said Smith. “I feel I have been taught by the best to be a head coach and I am ecstatic to have this opportunity at UAB.

“I am so excited,” Smith said. “I could tell when I came down last week that the administration is very serious about the success of the women’s basketball program. That was apparent. The program at UAB has experienced success in the past and my goal is to get back to that level.”

Smith, 34, is married to former UVa basketball player Anthony Oliver and has a son, A.J. (5) and a daughter, Adria (3).

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