The impact that the late North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith had on college basketball and society in general goes well beyond the 879 games and two national titles he won during his time in Chapel Hill. He was active in protests against segregation while also recruiting the school’s first African-American scholarship athlete in Charles Scott, and overall there were a number of causes he championed while also being one of the sport’s greatest coaches.
With that in mind the United States Basketball Writers Association and the University of North Carolina jointly announced the creation of the Dean Smith Award. The honor, which will be awarded annually, will be given to a person in college basketball (all levels, not just Division I) who best exemplifies “the spirit and values represented” by Coach Smith.
“The USBWA has a long history of supporting college basketball and honoring the men and women who make our game great, so I am thrilled that the USBWA would honor Coach Smith’s legacy with this award,” current UNC head coach Roy Williams said in the release. “The award will be especially meaningful because its criteria go beyond winning games in selecting people in college basketball who have made a significant impact on their communities.
“It recognizes the profound impact Coach Smith had on so many lives. I am proud that Carolina is teaming with the USBWA to establish the award and honor the recipients here in Chapel Hill.”
Per the release, the award will be given out at a dinner on the North Carolina campus just before the start of that particular season, with proceeds from the dinner going to the Dean Smith Opening Doors Fund. The fund aims to help students from low-income families with college expenses and professionals involved in the fields of education and social work.