He retired in 1997 after 36 years with the University of North Carolina having won 879 games, two NCAA Titles, making 11 Final Four appearances, and a 1976 gold Olympic medal along with many more accolades over his career. Remembered best for his innovations on the court such as: the “Four Corner” offense, the “point-to-passer” acknowledgement of assists and even the evolution of the legendary Michael Jordan, Smith contributed much more to the game, his school and the world around him. It was in 1966 that Smith began the integration of UNC’s basketball program, making Charles Scott the first Black scholarship player at the university and one of the first to sign at a major school in the South. To some, it was the unthinkable and too risky, but to Dean Smith it’s what he saw as right, especially after watching his father do the same for his Kansas high school team, in the 1930s.
Backed completely by his faith, Smith was one to voice his beliefs of basic human rights no matter who was watching. “He was willing to take controversial stands on a number of things….being against the death penalty, affirming gays and protesting nuclear proliferation,” said former Binkley Baptist Church Pastor, Robert Seymour. Smith was also prominent in donating to multiple presidential campaigns and also endorsed, good friend, President Barack Obama.
Under Smith’s leadership, UNC has produced over 50 NBA players and has remained a college basketball powerhouse well after his tenure. In only recent seasons, has his record of victories been surpassed by Bob Knight in 2007 and Mike Krzyzewski with 1,000 this year.
Born February 28, 1931 in Emporia, Kans., Dean Edwards Smith derived from humble beginnings with two public school teachers for parents and basketball being a household sport. In 1953, Smith graduated from the University of Kansas with a communications degree having also played for the renowned Jayhawks. Before becoming a head coach at UNC, he was an assistant coach at Kansas to Dick and Allen Harp later heading to the Air Force. There he became an assistant basketball coach at the Academy as well as a baseball and golf coach before leaving in 1958 for Chapel Hill.
Smith is survived by his wife Linnea, daughters Sandy, Sharon, Kristen and Kelly; son Scott; and several grandchildren.
Dean Smith dies at Age of 83: ESPN.com
Dean Smith fought for Integration: Ian O’Connor, ESPN.com