Dean Smith has passed away at the age of 83. The legendary coach led North Carolina to 11 Final Fours and two national championships. In his 36 years as head coach, he had only one losing season. Though he is best remembered for his accomplishments on the court, Smith was also a hero for the civil rights movement, recruiting North Carolina’s first black scholarship athlete in 1967. On November 20th, 2013 he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
University of North Carolina head coach Roy Williams released a statement this morning.
“It’s such a great loss for North Carolina – our state, the University, of course the Tar Heel basketball program, but really the entire basketball world. We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run. We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in.
“He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost.
“He was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people. His concern for people will be the legacy I will remember most.
“He was a mentor to so many people; he was my mentor. He gave me a chance but, more importantly, he shared with me his knowledge, which is the greatest gift you can give someone.
“I’m 64 years old and everything I do with our basketball program and the way I deal with the University is driven by my desire to make Coach Smith proud. When I came back to Carolina, the driving force was to make him proud and I still think that today.
“I’d like to say on behalf of all our players and coaches, past and present, that Dean Smith was the perfect picture of what a college basketball coach should have been. We love him and we will miss him.”
R.I.P. Dean Smith, a person whose legacy goes well beyond basketball.