WASHINGTON, D.C.– The date has been set for legendary Tar Heel basketball coach Dean Smith to receive his Presidential Medal of Freedom.
On Nov. 20, President Barack Obama will present the honor to Smith and 15 others, the White House announced on Wednesday.
On the court, Smith won two national championships and when he retired, he was the winningest coach in college basketball history. But it is the humble man’s work away from the sport that truly set him apart and deems Smith worthy of the United States’ highest civilian honor.
Taking a stand in a time period when many high-profile figures sat on the sidelines, Smith used his position to advocate for civil rights. In fact, Smith recruited UNC’s first black scholarship athlete and helped in Chapel Hill’s desegregation process in the 1960’s.
Many of his players called Smith a “second father” and his leadership of these young men led to an impressive 96 percent graduation rate.
It is still unknown who will represent Smith at the medal ceremony, says Steve Kirschner from the UNC athletic department.