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Longtime Tar Heel Bill Guthridge Dies At 77

An image of Bill Guthridge cutting down the net
UNC Atheltic Communications


Bill Guthridge, former UNC men’s basketball coach, died Tuesday, according to university officials. He was 77 years old.

The Kansas native spent more than three decades on the coaching staff in Chapel Hill. Guthridge was Dean Smith's trusted assistant coach for 30 years before serving as UNC's head coach after Smith's retirement in 1997.

During his time at Carolina, Guthridge earned a reputation as an even-keeled, steadying influence with a dry sense of humor. He led the Tar Heels to two Final Four appearances during his head-coaching tenure.

“Bill Guthridge was a gentlemen coach, but a fierce competitor, and an incredibly loyal member of Dean Smith’s staff for three decades,” said UNC Director of Athletics Bubba Cunningham in a statement. “When it was his turn as head coach, he immediately won an ACC championship and took two teams to the Final Four. I learned very quickly when I came to Chapel Hill how beloved and respected he was by people all across this community. His loss is deeply felt by our university and the basketball world. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Guthridge's successful coaching earned him the National Coach of the Year in 1998 after he took the Tar Heels to a 34-4 record. This set the record for most wins by a first-year head coach.

He was a part of 14 Final Four appearances total as either a player or coach, more than anybody in NCAA history.

  • 10 as assistant coach at UNC
  • 2 as Carolina's head coach
  • 1 as assistant coach at Kansas State
  • 1 as a player at Kansas State

During his 33 years at Carolina, Guthridge was a part of 867 wins and was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Below is a video of UNC men's basketball coach Roy Williams honoring Bill Guthridge earlier this year at Dean Smith's memorial in Chapel Hill:

Charlie Shelton-Ormond is a podcast producer for WUNC.
Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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