Chapel Hill, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Former University of North Carolina head men's basketball coach Dean Smith died Saturday evening in Chapel Hill. He was 83 years old.
North Carolina announced the passing Sunday morning.
"Coach Dean Smith passed away peacefully the evening of February 7 at his home in Chapel Hill, and surrounded by his wife and five children," Smith's family said in a statement. "We are grateful for all the thoughts and prayers, and appreciate the continued respect for our privacy as arrangements are made available to the public. Thank you."
Smith had health issues in recent years, with the family saying in 2010 he had a condition that was causing him to lose memory.
Smith was the head coach of the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, compiling a record of 879-254. When Smith retired, he was the winningest coach in Division I men's basketball.
He led North Carolina to national championships in 1982 and 1993, 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours, and an NIT championship, and directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games.
"It's such a great loss for North Carolina -- our state, the University, of course the Tar Heel basketball program, but really the entire basketball world," said current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams, who worked as an assistant under Smith. "We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run. We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in.
"He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost."
Smith, who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983, coached Hall of Fame players Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Bob McAdoo and Billy Cunningham. In Smith's 36-year tenure, more than 50 of his players went on to play pro basketball in the NBA or ABA and more played in other professional leagues both in the United States and overseas.
"Other than my parents, no one had a bigger influence on my life than Coach Smith," Jordan said in a statement. "He was more than a coach -- he was my mentor, my teacher, my second father. Coach was always there for me whenever I needed him and I loved him for it. In teaching me the game of basketball, he taught me about life. My heart goes out to Linnea and their kids. We've lost a great man who had an incredible impact on his players, his staff and the entire UNC family."
Smith is also a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame and the College Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was named to the inaugural class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame along with James Naismith, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and John Wooden.