Dean Smith is the former men’s head basketball coach at UNC. He took over the program in 1960 and led the program until his retirement in 1997. Over his tenure as coach, his teams had a record of 879-254. He retired with more victories than any other coach in Division I men’s basketball history. His record was broken by Bob Knight in 2007 and Mike Krzyzewski in 2011.
Smith is considered one of the greatest coaches of all time. He led the Tar Heels to two championships in 1982 and 1993. He coached legendary players such as Charlie Scott, Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Kenny Smith and Eric Montross. In 2013, Smith was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Dean E. Smith Student Activities Center has been the home of North Carolina men’s basketball since Jan. 18, 1986, when the arena’s first game featured a top-five matchup between No. 1 UNC and No. 3 Duke, a 95-92 UNC win.
The Smith Center was entirely funded by private gifts, yet no gift exceeded $1,000,000. It also includes the Koury Natatourium, the home of the UNC swimming and diving team. It cost $33.8 million originally and was renovated in 2001 for $150,000. The Smith Center seats 21,750.
At 313,255 sq. ft, the Smith Center currently stands as the fifth-largest collegiate basketball arena in the United States. Before the Smith Center opened, UNC men’s basketball played home games in Charmichael stadium, and before Charmichael opened, Woolen Gymnasium was the home of basketball.
Smith died at the age of 83 in Chapel Hill on Feb. 7, 2015. The Dean Smith Opening Doors Fund was created soon after to provide for graduate and undergraduate need-based scholarships in memory of the legendary coach.