A photo of Dean Smith in the Dean Smith Center rests next to hand written notes Smith wrote in preparation for his speech in 2001 after being named Kansan of the Year.

Wilson Library collection gives insight into Dean Smith's life as a coach, friend and mentor

The legacy of Dean Smith has expanded from one dome to another. In Wilson Library, a new gift includes a collection of thousands of letters, speeches and personal items marking Smith’s personal life – one of deep faith, humility and commitment to honest competition.  


Dean Smith

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. 

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Column: Dean Smith ensures all will have seat at table

The arc of a life rises, then slopes, then falls, because time is the curvature that ensures nothing is forever. And then there is the exception: the flat line that extends beyond sight, in perpetuity, faithful to its path and resolute in its straight purpose. Dean Smith is the line that flattens the arc.


Athletic department releases 3-year plan

Throughout his career, legendary North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith always had six words for his players. Now, decades later, Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham has six similar words for his department — six words that summarize its new strategic plan, which was released today.


Dean Smith's influence off the court

Three legends of North Carolina basketball are all in accord when it comes to one thing — they wouldn’t be where they are today without Dean Smith. The Hall of Fame basketball coach has “progressive neurocognitive disorder” according to a letter from his family that was released Saturday.


Family writes letter concerning Dean Smith's health

On Oct. 9, 1997, Dean Smith surprised everyone when he retired as head coach of the North Carolina basketball team. On Saturday, a letter from Smith’s family concerning his health came as no surprise. The legendary coach who led UNC to two national championships and put the University on the map as a basketball school has memory loss at age 79.


Dean Smith death just a rumor

Associate Athletic Director Steve Kirschner has confirmed that a rumor that former UNC head basketball coach Dean Smith had died was not true. While Smith has been suffering from severe memory loss, the legendary basketball icon is still alive despite what Kirschner called “vicious rumors” being spread through e-mails and twitter today.