Art’s Angle: Does Honor Absolve Smith?

The U.S. Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) will be bestowing an annual award that honors the late Dean Smith given “to an individual in college basketball who embodies the spirit and values represented by Smith,” according to the official release Wednesday.

What a marvelous idea, akin to what has been proposed by various people since Smith retired in 1997. UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham told Media Relations Director Steve Kirschner two years ago that such an award should be initiated. Sports Information Director Emeritus Rick Brewer, perhaps the closest person to Smith outside his personal and basketball families, suggested it to sportswriter and former USBWA president John Feinstein at the 2015 ACC Tournament.

When brought up at the organization’s next meeting, it passed “in 30 seconds,” according to current President Pat Forde, who with Feinstein and columnist Dana O’Neil were in Chapel Hill Wednesday to make the announcement. The USBWA has since worked with Kirschner, Cunningham and the Smith family to frame out the parameters of the award that can go to a coach, non-coach, presumably a former player, “both male and female, from all divisions of the NCAA and NAIA.”

There was a lot of joy and sincere sentiment at the press conference, also attended by Smith’s widow Linnea and son Scott. There was also a touch of hypocrisy.

Apparently, any writer with a regular column in print or on-line who pays dues can join the USBWA, which has had hundreds of members since being  founded in 1956 and names an All-American Team each year and also gives out annual national awards for Player of the Year, Coach of the Year and Courage.

The USBWA has no control over what its members write, and many of them have had UNC in their gun sights for years over the academic scandal. Some have refused to believe the scandal is an aberration of what was long hailed as a model athletic program, the problem started in the old African American Studies (AFAM) department and was taken advantage of by a relatively small percentage of Tar Heel athletes over an 18-year span.

Forde has been one of Carolina’s harshest critics, banging out columns with sweeping accusations and indictments, suggesting that UNC might before due process self-impose penalties like vacating a national title. He was the headline subject of one Tar Heel blog entitled, Pat Forde Can’t Stop Talking About North Carolina’s Academic Scandal. In that piece, Forde said of Marcus Paige, the Academic Player of the Year in college basketball:

“And the brainiac junior also is tasked with being the erudite face of a program that has become a national laughingstock because of an 18-year academic scandal that undercut the school’s previously strong reputation.”

At the time of Forde’s quote, “an 18-year scandal” went back to 1996-97, when Smith was still coaching the Tar Heels. So Forde was asked if getting behind the Dean Smith Award somehow exonerates the Hall of Fame coach from any involvement in the eyes of the USBWA.

“This is independent from the scandal,” Forde said. “It is everything Dean did away from basketball.”

Asked again if this particular honor absolves Smith and we may never see his name mentioned in another story about the scandal (after this one), Forde said, “We wouldn’t put Dean Smith’s name on an award if we did not feel his character deserved it.”

Frankly, the rush to judgment from the ABC posters is to be expected. But from an organization of the best basketball writers in the world, well, that speaks to the sometimes unhealthy competition of the 24-hour news cycle. And it isn’t likely to stop whether the NCAA throws the Tar Heels in jail or says it’s “all good” and let’s P.J. Hairston come back and play his last two years. Either way, the reactions will be strong.

What the scribes say about Carolina Basketball, good and bad, will always go back to Dean Smith because he took a team in rubbles when no one else wanted the job and created a paradigm that every other program in the country, including Duke, sought to emulate. And now it is coached by one of his deepest disciples, a man who credits everything he knows about life and college basketball to his mentor.

So while UNC and the Smith family should be thrilled about this off-the-court recognition, and its charitable association with their Opening Doors Fund, I am happy it is another step in restoring a reputation that Dean Smith helped build.

Orange County Man Wins Humanitarian Award

Chapel Hill – An Orange County resident won a humanitarian award in a state-wide competition, for his volunteer work in the community.

***Listen to the Story***

The Lamplighter Awards is an annual state-wide competition that recognizes volunteers for their community service. One of the awards is the John Hope Franklin Humanitarian Award.

When Minister Robert Campbell of Chapel Hill thinks of someone who should be awarded for shining his light upon others, he says one name comes to mind.

“I nominated Mr. David Caldwell simply because of the work that he had been doing in the community of the Rodgers-Eubanks Neighborhood,” says Campbell, “He’s just one of those lights that shine in the community.”

David Caldwell is the project director and community organizer for the Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association. He says he’s shocked that he beat the odds, and the other deserving contestants to win the honor.

“I think when it got to about 300 people I kind of said, ‘Okay, well that’s as far as I’m going,’” Caldwell says, “Looking at the competition that was out there, it was unbelievable what people were doing around the state.”

Campbell says he is not surprised that Caldwell won the competition. He says there is no better candidate than Caldwell.

“I looked at the definition for the award, and David is the example that Dr. Hope Franklin himself represented,” says Campbell.

Caldwell was presented with the award Saturday at the Carolina Theater in Durham. But he says the credit is due to all the folks who have helped him accomplish so much in Orange County.

“This is a pat on the back for everybody that’s been apart of RENA, and the hundreds of collaborations that we’ve made over the years,” says Caldwell.

Caldwell has plans to continue his work in the community, and he says he hopes you will join him.

“There’s a lot of work to be done,” says Caldwell, “You might not be able to do what you want to, but please do what you can.”

For more information about the Rogers-Eubank’s Neighborhood Association click here.

UNC BoG Recognizes Former Governor Holshouser

CHAPEL HILL – The UNC BOG recognized our former Governor James Holshouser and honored his life with an award in his name. UNC System President Tom Ross says Holshouser was a great leader and influenced many.

“This University and our entire state lost a consummate public servant, a source of infinite wisdom and a true statesman, this summer with the passing of Jim Holshouser” Ross stated.

Holshouser served as Governor of North Carolina from 1973 to 1977.  He also served on the Board of Governors for the UNC system for more than 30 years where many members have said they valued his thoughts and practices.

“I always told people that Governor Holshouser should have been named Mr. E.F. Hutton, because when he spoke truly everyone listened” Ross said “in word and indeed he personified the true meaning of statesmanship and servant leadership, and our university had no greater friend or stronger ally.”

To honor Holshouser the BOG voted to change the name of their public service award to the Governor Holshouser award for excellence in public service.  This award was originally created in 2007 to encourage, identify, recognize, and reward public service by faculty of the University. Holshouser exemplified many of the characteristics that this award represents.  BOG member Peter Hans says words do not describe the loss of Holshouser.

“President mentioned in his remarks, we lost a giant in June, and a man who epitomizes public service” Hans commented.

The board also recognized another BOG member that recently passed, Julius Chambers.  Chambers was a civil rights attorney for many years along with Chancellor of North Carolina Central University.

For more information on James Holshouser click here.

Extraordinary Ventures; NC AHEC; Chapel Hill 2020

CHAPEL HILL – Extraordinary Ventures is hosting the 2013 Summer Bridal Showcase on August 17. The event will take place from 11:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m. in the Great Hall and on the grounds at Extraordinary Ventures event center on S. Elliot Road.  Vendors will be at the event ranging from The Catering Company of Chapel Hill to A Beautiful Day Bridalwear.

Extraordinary Ventures event center is a beautiful and convenient location for weddings and receptions; it is a non-profit that employs adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

For more information on Extraordinary Ventures click here.


Chapel Hill has been recognized by the NC Chapter of the American Planning Association with a planning innovation award for the 2020 community visioning process.

The Chapel Hill 2020 plan will receive the 2013 North Carolina Marvin Collins Outstanding Planning Award in the Special theme for their innovations in planning services, education, and public involvement.

The award will be presented on September 19 at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, NC.

For more information on the award and Chapel Hill’s 2020 plan click here.


Dr. Warren Newton has been named the new director of North CarolinaAreaHealthEducationCenter, effective September 1, 2013.  Dr. Newton was serving as vice dean for education at the UNC School of Medicine.

Dr. Newton was actively involved with AHEC and the expansion of opportunities for medical students and residents.  He will step down from this position, but will continue to serve as the William B. Aycock professor and chair of Family Medicine.  He says he also plans on remaining on the Board of Advisors for the Cecil G. Sheps research center, and professor of Epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Public Health.