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.