When former North Carolina coach Dean Smith died last month at the age of 83, he left behind more than a basketball legacy deeper than just Xs and Os. Smith was the first coach at North Carolina, and among the first in the segregated South, to offer a scholarship to a black athlete and his humble "Carolina Way" became the standard of the school he cared so much for.
And now, as per the late coach's pre-arranged instructions in his will, Smith is showing his gratitude by mailing out $200 checks to each of the varsity lettermen he coached over 36 years with one last instruction: "Enjoy a dinner out."
The letter to former UNC guard Dante Calabria, reads:
“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 wanted each letterman to be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message 'enjoy a dinner [out] compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'”
Coach Smith willed his trust to send a $200 check to each his former players following his passing. #DeanSmith pic.twitter.com/NyiBhU9taQ
— Jim Dempsey (@ChestPassDemps) March 26, 2015
USA Today confirmed the letter’s authenticity with accountant Tim Breedlove, who said that the letter was sent to about 180 of Smith’s former players.
Smith actually coached 184 players between 1961 and 1997 bringing the total cost of his posthumous gesture to about $36,800.
But no bean-counter will ever put a price on his memory.