CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — Each player who lettered under late North Carolina head men’s basketball coach Dean Smith is receiving a surprise gift from the coach : $200.
Smith, who died last month, willed the money to each former player in his trust. Tim Breedlove, who wrote the letters to the players, confirmed the gift to SI.com on Thursday.
“Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his letterman. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing, each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.” Enclosed is a check in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200.00) with the notation “Dinner out.”
Smith died at his North Carolina home on Feb. 7. He was 83.
Smith coached 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 a NIT championship. He also directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games.
Sports Illustrated estimated that during his time at UNC, he coached 184 players, meaning he likely left over $35,000 to his former players.