Former UNC coach Bill Guthridge, longtime Dean Smith assistant, dies

Wednesday May 13th, 2015

Former North Carolina head basketball coach Bill Guthridge, who also spent 30 years as an assistant under Dean Smith, has died at the age of 77, the school announced Wednesday morning.

Guthridge joined Smith's staff at UNC in 1967 and spent three years as the head coach after Smith retired in 1997. Smith died in February at the age of 83. 

North Carolina went 80-28 in Guthridge's three seasons and went to the Final Four twice. He won the Naismith College Coach of the Year award in 1998. 

"Coach Guthridge is the best I have ever seen in selecting potential in high school players," Smith once said, according to the team's website. "He has a keen sense of which ones will be very good players and which ones may be overrated. He has saved many scholarships when he has suggested backing off certain players, and of course, has selected some great ones who matriculated at Chapel Hill."

SI Vault: Bill Guthridge's retirement set off a chain reaction

Guthridge played as a guard at Kansas State from 1957–60 and was a member of the Wildcats' 1958 Final Four team. When he led the Tar Heels to the 1998 Final Four, he became the sixth man to make the Final Four as a player and coach. 

Guthridge's health had deteriorated in recent years. He developed an incurable heart condition that led to dementia and moved into an assisted living facility near the North Carolina campus. 

- Dan Gartland

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide — from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Grant Wahl, Andy Staples and more — delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.