The Slatest

Dean Smith Buys His Players Dinner from Beyond the Grave

UNC coach Dean Smith addresses his players during a Final Four practice in 1995. “Do you want a free meal in 20 years?”

Stephen Dunn/ALLSPORT

Dean Smith was a pretty good dude. As Jason Zengerle noted earlier this year in Slate upon the former UNC coach’s death, Smith was an early warrior for civil rights and a man who spoke out against injustices wherever he saw them—be it on the basketball court, or in the political arena.

Now Smith has continued to do cool things even after his death. As Jim Dempsey reported on Twitter, Smith’s trust has been sending his former players $200 each on Smith’s behalf with the notation “Dinner out.”

The above letter, to former UNC guard Dante Calabria, states: “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.’”

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. Sports Illustrated, meanwhile, estimated that Smith coached 184 players between 1961 and 1997.

It remains to be seen if the NCAA will attempt to sanction Dean Smith’s estate for this final gesture of friendship, or perhaps add it on to pending charges against UNC.