Jamal Smith
Former Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission Jamal Smith served five years as Assistant Basketball Coach at Arsenal Technical High School helping to lead the boys’ team to earn the 2014 Indiana 4A State Championship title.
Indianapolis Public Schools is proud to welcome Jamal Smith, our new District Athletic Director. Smith, a pillar in our community, most recently served as Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, He is no stranger to IPS athletics; he guided, supported and inspired our students during his five-year stint as Assistant Boys’ Basketball Coach for Arsenal Technical High School. Alongside helping to lead the Tech Titans to become the 2014 4A State Basketball Champions, Smith consistently emphasized community involvement as much as winning basketball games. While the student-athletes together earned the district’s first state title in a decade, an equally impressive effort was evidenced in their collective grade point average (GPA) of 3.2 and numerous college acceptances.

Smith brings a wealth of expertise to the district’s AD position. He holds a Master of Science in Sports Management from Purdue University, as well as a Master of Business Administration from Wright State University. He is founder of The Lead Change Project, a non-profit organization, which seeks to increase extracurricular participation, academic performance and community involvement.

“Participating in a sport or extracurricular activity inherently provides intangible benefits for the participants and the communities in which they live,” said Smith.
Like his work with The Lead Change Project, Smith’s work at IPS will focus on three important objectives:
  1. Increase the number of youth who participate in a sport or extracurricular activity
  2. Increase the school district’s community and corporate footprint through community engagement, volunteerism and mentoring
  3. Facilitate partnerships between higher education and our schools

This marks Smith’s first full week on the job. As he maps out his plan for the next 30 days, he is sharply focused on measurement. Smith wants to assess the current state of the following five areas:

  1. How resources are managed and spent on athletics
  2. Student-athlete academic performance so tutoring support can be provided appropriately
  3. Athletic programs offered and the quality of facilities at each school
  4. Quantity and effectiveness of personnel
  5. Student participation rates and student interest
According to a 2012 survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Associations, the national average participation rate in high school sports is 55 percent.  That number is closer to 21 percent in IPS. 

“Approximately, 3,000 kids go home every day at 3 p.m. to do – who knows what,” said Smith. “If they would stick around for athletics or other extracurricular activity, they would receive mentoring, physical activity and intrinsic benefit from participating.”

Smith has a clear long-term vision as well. Among other things, he plans to assign academic coaches to student-athletes. IPS will team with local colleges and universities to provide academic coaches who will fill a role much like college academic advisers who give mentoring or tutoring support, while helping the student stay on the right track academically.
Smith will also place a priority on student accountability. Student athletes will be required to sign a contract stating they understand attendance, behavioral and academic expectations.
Smith is recognized as a leader professionally as well as throughout the community. In 2014, he was appointed by the Mayor of Indianapolis to co-chair the Your Life Matters Taskforce, an initiative aimed at identifying challenges and making recommendations to eliminate barriers to success for young people.
This month, he also earned the State of Indiana’s prestigious Sagamore of the Wabash Award from Indiana Governor Mike Pence. The Sagamore Award – one of the highest honors presented by the Governor of Indiana – is a special recognition given to those who have provided a distinguished service to the state.
Join us in welcoming Jamal Smith! We are proud that he is a member of teamIPS, and we’re excited about his vision for district athletics!