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North Carolina

Dean Smith will not attend Medal of Freedom ceremony

Posted November 14, 2013

North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith will not attend the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House next week, according to UNC team spokesman Steve Kirschner.

It was in 2010 that the family revealed that Smith is suffering from a "progressive neurocognitive disorder that affects his memory." Due to his health Smith is unable to make the trip Nov. 20.

Smith, who led the Tar Heels to two national championships and is in the Basketball Hall of Fame, will be represented by his wife Dr. Linnea Smith, his children, long-time coaching assistant, Bill Guthridge, and current UNC coach Roy Williams.

"This is an extraordinary honor," Smith’s family said in a statement. "We were touched by those who asked for the recognition and by the President’s decision to give an award to Dean for his work both on and off the court."

Smith retired in 1997 as the all-time winningest coach in men’s college basketball history with 879 victories – all of them with UNC. He currently sits fourth on that list having been passed by Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim and Bobby Knight.

"I’m so proud of Coach Smith, happy for his family and friends and appreciative to President Obama for this just recognition," said current UNC head coach Roy Williams.

Obama will award 16 people with the honor this year including Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks. Other notables include former President Bill Clinton, country music singer Loretta Lynn, female astronaut Sally Ride and TV personality Oprah Winfrey.

17 Comments

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  • Lady Nov 15, 4:46 p.m.

    Congratulations to Coach Smith and his family! I just wish he could be there...sending happy thoughts!

  • 75Tarheel Nov 15, 10:11 a.m.

    Simply put Coach Smith emulated this mantra wherever he went. He is absolutely the best ambassador UNC has ever had. The honor he will receive is most appropriate and Carolina alumni, supporters and fans everywhere are wishing Coach well.

    GO HEELS!!

  • 75Tarheel Nov 15, 10:02 a.m.

    Dignified.

    The Carolina Way.

    LOL at old Markie....always good for a joke and BOY is that a good... View More

    — Posted by baseball2

    You've been admonished by a Duke supporter. That's all that needs to be said.

    Thanks Durham Devil..

  • LUKECAGE Nov 15, 9:42 a.m.

    Along with Coach Smith's family, hopefully, Coach Williams, Coach Guthridge, and Coach Doherty will attend, and as many current and former players and/or coaches that have been a part of Carolina basketball.

  • DurhamDevil Nov 15, 9:29 a.m.

    Bless your heart Dean. I enjoyed watching you when i was at school.

    — Posted by heelgrad1978

    sAnd what school was that? (eyeroll.)

    Anyway...

    I'm glad someone hasn't decided it would be a good... View More

    — Posted by stomponurlogo

    "The Carolina Way"..... lol

    — Posted by BlueDevils00

    From one Duke fan to another...this is not the thread for sarcasm. Show a little class and let's keep this one on topic. Rise above it.

  • baseball2 Nov 15, 9:18 a.m.

    Dignified.

    The Carolina Way.

    LOL at old Markie....always good for a joke and BOY is that a good one!

    #wecheatwheneverconvenient

  • mxteam44 Nov 15, 7:45 a.m.

    I hate that his health will keep him from accepting this award. My dad is suffering from the same illness, and it's a really sad process to witness.

    Congrats Coach Smith!!! A much deserved honor!

  • BlueDevils00 Nov 15, 7:25 a.m.

    Bless your heart Dean. I enjoyed watching you when i was at school.

    — Posted by heelgrad1978

    sAnd what school was that? (eyeroll.)

    Anyway...

    I'm glad someone hasn't decided it would be a good... View More

    — Posted by stomponurlogo

    "The Carolina Way"..... lol

  • iron fist Nov 15, 6:34 a.m.

    God bless you Coach Smith

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Nov 14, 9:19 p.m.

    This is bittersweet: Coach Smith is very deserving of this award, yet his health won't allow him to accept the award. I'm glad Roy, Coach Gutt, and Dean's wife can accept the award for him.

    I'm impressed with the thoughtful posts here (so far).

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