1989: AN ANIMATED NORTH CAROLINA HEAD COACH DEAN SMITH YELLS FROM THE SIDELINE DURING A TARHEELS REGULAR SEASON GAME AT THE SMITH CENTER IN CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA. Mandatory Credit: Allsport/ALLSPORT By Getty Images
CHAPEL HILL – Former University of North Carolina head men’s basketball coach Dean Smith died Saturday evening in Chapel Hill. He was 83 years old.
“Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children,” the Smith family said in a statement. “We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you.”
Smith was the head coach of the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, retiring as the winningest coach in college basketball. He led the Tar Heels to national championships in 1982 and 1993, to 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours, and an NIT championship, and directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games.
ESPN’s SportsCentury program selected Smith as one of the seven greatest coaches of the 20th Century with Red Auerbach, Bear Bryant, George Halas, Vince Lombardi, John McGraw and John Wooden.
In 36 seasons at UNC, Smith’s teams had a record of 879-254. He set the record for winning more games than any Division I men’s coach in history, surpassing Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp with his 877th victory over Colorado in the 1997 NCAA Tournament. He finished his career by leading UNC to the Final Four in four of his final seven seasons.
Under Smith, the Tar Heels won at least 20 games for 27 straight years and 30 of his final 31. No coach in history had ever produced that many consecutive 20-win seasons.