Saturday, August 10, 2013

Former KU basketball champion Dean Smith to receive Medal of Freedom

This Dec. 8, 2006 file photo shows former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith speaking during a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C. President Barack Obama will bestow the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on Smith and several others later this year.

This Dec. 8, 2006 file photo shows former North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith speaking during a news conference in Chapel Hill, N.C. President Barack Obama will bestow the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on Smith and several others later this year.


Former Kansas University men’s basketball player and assistant coach Dean Smith will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, President Barack Obama announced Thursday.

Smith, 82, played at KU from 1949-53 and was a member of the Jayhawks’ national championship team in 1952. After graduation, he served as an assistant coach for KU coach Phog Allen during the 1953-54 season.

Smith later coached at North Carolina from 1961-97, where he won two national championships. He retired in 1997 as the winningest coach in college basketball history.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. According to the White House, this award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

The White House has not yet announced a date when the medals will be awarded in Washington D.C.

Top preps set KU campus visits

Jahlil Okafor, 6-10 senior from Chicago Whitney Young and’s No. 1-rated player nationally, told ESPN Chicago he will visit KU on Oct. 18, the same date as No. 2 Tyus Jones, 6-1 senior from Apple Valley (Minn.) High. The two will visit Baylor on Aug. 30 and Duke on Oct. 25. Okafor will visit Kentucky on Sept. 9 and Arizona on Oct. 11 without Jones, ESPN Chicago said. Okafor will also visit Illinois, Michigan State and Ohio State.

Myles Turner, 6-11 senior from Trinity High in Euless, Texas, will visit KU for the Oct. 4 Late Night in the Phog, Turner told The No. 6-rated player in the Class of 2014 has a final list of KU, Arizona, Duke, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Oklahoma State and Texas.


Erin Troyer 8 months ago

I usually have to go Tiger Board to find such levels of moronic commentary.


KANSTUCKY 8 months, 1 week ago

Bob Knight is on next year's ticket...


Sam Constance 8 months, 1 week ago


In the general scheme of things, the situation in 2003 with Dean and Roy is minor. After all, it's still just a game, and it's a game played by amateur athletes to boot. There are far greater injustices in the world than someone being a little selfish about finding a new basketball coach to carry on his program's legacy. Dean Smith, overall, is not a bad person, but I don't think I'll be able to forgive him, because in the long run, even though everything worked out for the best for KU, he still tarnished and ruined something that I felt as a fan that I can never get back.

Before everything went down in 2003, I (and I think a lot of KU fans) felt a kinship with the UNC basketball program. They had a Kansas boy at the helm. We had a North Carolina boy leading our program. We were two siblings in the fraternity of college basketball blue bloods. Smith ruined that kinship--he betrayed us, and for really no reason at all. He could have recruited Roy back to UNC after the 2003 title game had been played. He essentially washed his hands of any sense of loyalty he may have had to KU for what? So that he could get Roy in the door at UNC a week earlier? It was deplorable and pathetic, and no amount of good he's done in his life (and there has been plenty) will erase the fact that he did this.

The only question left to answer is whether Smith's true nature is that of the altruistic crusader for human rights, or the me-first selfish arse who saw his program's legacy as a trump card to all other motivations and desires. It's unfortunate that the answer isn't as clear as it probably should be, and Smith has only himself to blame.

All that being said, my thoughts are with Smith and his family. Alzheimer's can be a nasty disease to deal with and I don't wish it on anyone, having watched it destroy two lives--my grandmother's as she became afflicted with the disease, and my grandfather's as he watched the love of his life deteriorate while being powerless to help.


Sam Constance 8 months, 1 week ago

Does Dean Smith deserve credit for his work regarding integration in the U.S.? Of course.

Was he also one of the most influential basketball coaches of the last 50 years, if not all time? Well, yes.

And was he a Jayhawk alumnus? Obviously, the answer is yes.

So credit where credit is due when it comes to Coach Smith. He's provided a lot of great contributions to basketball and society in general during his time on this Earth. I don't know the specifics of his work for integration, but I'm going to defer to the people who select the recipients for this award and assume that they take their selections far more seriously than I do, and would only select a deserving recipient.

But what baffles me about Smith is that in his career as a humanitarian, selfless crusader for what is Right, he revealed an ugly, selfish streak. He abused his relationship with Roy and showed a callous disrespect for his own alma mater, and I'm not even talking about the ultimate departure of Williams. I'm talking about the timing and consideration he showed during the process. Why couldn't he wait until after the 2003 tournament had finished to start barking up the tree to get his former assistant to come back home?

How could a mentor have so little respect for his pupil that, upon seeing that pupil finally returning to the promised land after a 20 year career of having to hear about how he was the "best coach to never win a national championship", his concern for having a good steward for his UNC program was the most important motivation? I was originally mad at Roy when it first went down, but time has shown that Roy was in a no-win situation--either leave his first home as a head coach, a place that he had come to love and feel like it was his second home, or pass on a chance to return to his actual home and family in North Carolina. In the long run, he returned to his actual home and alma mater. Ironically, showing far more loyalty than the very man who recruited him to come back home. So to those of you saying "once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk", I ask you this:

What about when one Jayhawk basically craps on another Jayhawk? You see, my irritation with Dean and how his actions affected KU basketball have subsided considerably. By my irritation at the way he treated Roy during that 2003 tournament will likely never subside, because they come, not from my love for KU basketball, but from my instincts as a human being and how I expect people to be treated. What Smith did to Roy was just garbage.

(to be concluded...)


theend 8 months, 1 week ago

This clown has been nothing short of an enemy to Kansas Basketball for decades. I for one don't get why many KU fans need to partake in idol worship of this backstabber that was nothing more than a bench- warmer while at Kansas.

Smith rode the bench his entire playing career........Then off he went to UNC. He could not care less about KU......and I could not care less about him.

Many of you KU fans need to put your tongues back in your mouths and stop salavating all over this ingrate.


bjejayhawk69 8 months, 1 week ago

The ultimate goal in college basketball is winning the final 4 championship. Dean had a profound affect on Roy in the 2003 final 4. He first fired Doherty - a former UNC player and former KU assistant and then followed Roy around like a puppy dog and distracted Roy and the KU players. I am fine with Roy going back to UNC - it is his home and KU has been better for it with Self. Roy had admitted not recruiting the eastern half of the country. 2 pretty profound issues. Great for Dean to get the honor but he obviously in all UNC now - wearing his baby blue blazer to a KU honored event and his complete disregard for KU's program during the 2003 final four.


Kyle Neuer 8 months, 1 week ago

I suspect this has as much to do with Democratic electoral politics in North Carolina as it has to do with any contribution Coach Smith has made to the nation, regardless of how much of a basketball fan the President is. Pretty cagey move.


kay_you 8 months, 1 week ago

I think it’s disgraceful the way colleges raid the basketball coaching cupboards during the tournament and equally disgraceful when football coaches get raided during bowl season. My hats off to Bo Schembechler for firing Bill Frieder. Probably the only time in my life I rooted for a Big 10 team.


Bob Bailey 8 months, 1 week ago

Hey, guys. It is worth seeing the Haka War Chant in today's comments in the football comments!


Brianna Zaleski 8 months, 1 week ago

Guthridge was the coach the 2nd time Roy was recruited to UNC. Dean Smith had already retired 3 years earlier... I agree w/ most of what you said, however, if you think that Roy being actively recruited during the FF had no impact on the game, I say you're wrong. KU's press conference on the Sunday before the title game was solely about Roy leaving. Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison were answering more questions about Roy leaving then about the upcoming game. And not once did Roy put a stop to the line of questioning. Where was his infamous line about not giving a sh!t about UNC then?


FinalFinal 8 months, 1 week ago

Obama continues to show he does not get it. Horrible decision.

4 corners, cigarettes and bad hair.... Bad alum to boot.

Integration for his basketball program? A little self serving... Was he helping gays, Mexicans, Jews, Mumuslims, fat kids, ... Of course not, they could not play top level basketball.

How about Coach K at least he was military and involved in olypics.


kay_you 8 months, 1 week ago

He’s led an exemplary life and is worthy of this award. But trying to hire Roy in the middle of a final four is unforgivable. Congratulations Mr. Smith for a well deserved award but shame on you for the manner in which you treated your alma mater. Good riddance.


Joe Baker 8 months, 1 week ago

Come on Jayhawk Nation...You can say what you want, but what happened to "once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk"? I guess that only applies to those who are deemed worthy on this board?

Read the above link and story about Dean Smith and then eat your words on why he was chosen to receive this award. The guy was a great credit to the state of Kansas, KU, and basketball. You have to respect a man that earned the respect of a great game. I would place him up there with Naismith and Phog Allen of KU history.

Also, how easily you forget in 2008 that The Dean wore his KU sweater to the Natl Champ game and Roy wore his little Jayhawk pin after we beat them that year in the tourney to advance into the NC game. You may not like him, but he's part of Kansas and KU history.

Thank you Dean Smith and Rock Chalk Jayhawk...Once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk. I might add the guy was born and reared in Emporia, KS.


Randy Bombardier 8 months, 1 week ago

Critical bunch sometimes aren't we. Dean Smith is a Kansas boy. He has done us proud. Just because he didn't win his championships at KU, WSU or KSU is no reason to disparage him. I am proud of him and unlike some coaches at the highest level he has always been classy. No throwing chairs, no unethical recruiting, a real gentleman. That he is tied directly to KU goes double for any KU fan.


Jack Jones 8 months, 1 week ago

My, my, my ~ settle down boys ~ no point getting your Hanes all twisted in a knot.


rawheadrex 8 months, 1 week ago

Yeah, with Oprah and Gloria. Why not the Nobel Prize, too? They both have the same value.


JakeBarnes 8 months, 1 week ago

What did Smith ever do for freedom? What a sham these awards are.


DDDHawk 8 months, 1 week ago

Thanks, Medieval Hawk for your comments. The people who dissed him on this site should bother to learn their collegiate basketball history before mouthing off. Dean Smith was a real moral force in bringing integration into collegiate athletics. Thank you, Dean Smith. You are a fine representative for the sport.


Brianna Zaleski 8 months, 1 week ago

JayDog, I understand that this is something that is standard or maybe even an annual occurrence. To me though, this prez has used up all of his party allowance and it's time he pull up his bootstraps and do some actual work. If I hear of another presidential party/ function, I think I'll puke myself....

Prez Bush tanked the economy? Singlehandedly? Probably had nothing to do w the Dem controlled house and senate...


Brianna Zaleski 8 months, 1 week ago

Well is a good thing BO got this award hashed out. The less important things like the economy, Benghazi, IRS scandal et al, can wait.


Steve Gantz 8 months, 1 week ago

Surprised at the animosity towards Dean here.


mikehawk 8 months, 1 week ago

For those who STILL begrudge Dean Smith for his alleged disloyalty to KU, it provides us some insight regarding how Oklahoma State people feel about Coach Self.


TexiCaliHawk 8 months, 1 week ago

HEM's right in both of his posts above; however, we must remember that when we approached Dean about 'coming home' to finish his coaching career at KU as a successor to Ted Owens, he politely declined stating that his legacy was now at UNC. Out of love and respect for his alma mater, we cannot forget that he helped to deliver first Larry Brown (I'm sure you all remember our NCAA Championships in '88, right?) as well as Roy Williams (15 years of excellence regardless of where he recruited).

Net, net: while I do find it ironic that Dean did not wish to 'come home' yet he caved to the Tarheel Nation in luring Roy 'home' (not once, but twice), I contend this worked out best for all parties -- both of the hires Dean assisted on (Larry and Roy) reversed a declining trend in KU Basketball stature and, in fact, paved the way for Bill Self to take us to an even higher level; whereas Dean cemented his legendary status at UNC and 'ol Roy got to follow his heart and return 'home'.

Now, let's just hope that Bill does not heed the call to return 'home' to Okie State any time soon . . . he already said 'no' once, but then again, so did Roy, right?


oldalum 8 months, 1 week ago

Sad that they waited until now when he isn't aware of what's going on.


Jeff Kilgore 8 months, 1 week ago

Like so many things in society today, the meaning of words loses its value when awards named for war heroes are given to those whose actions, however worthwhile, fall outside the category of the award. How many men in uniform died in war and are not honored? It makes as much sense to give Smith the Medal of Freedom as it would a deceased soldier a basketball award. Give Smith his due, but the due he has earned, not one unnaturally foisted on him.


PhearThePhog 8 months, 1 week ago

Too bad Okafor & Jones aren't coming together to Late Night giving Jayhawk Nation and The Phog an opportunity to do their magic and make a lasting impression on them.


PhearThePhog 8 months, 1 week ago

Based on Medieval's info I now understand why he is getting this award from Pres. Obama. No doubt Dean Smith was one of the all-time great college basketball coaches.


Vince Brown 8 months, 1 week ago

You tell 'em medievalhawk! Forget the Roy/Dean connection. College bball wouldn't be where it is at this time without Dean Smith's actions. People should look into Adolph Rupps attempts at integration, also. I had to alter my opinion of the Baron.


Jack Wilson 8 months, 1 week ago

Here's what the medal of freedom is about -- "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors".

He's in a group this year with Bill Clinton, Arturo Sandoval, Gloria Steinem, Oprah Winfrey, Ernie Banks, Loretta Lynn, among others. So the award covers all spectrums.

He was great basketball coach. One of the best ever.

And remember, he gave us Coach Roy. Without Dean, Roy would have never got the job here. Dean Smith was the driving force behind Roy's hiring.

The guy is battling alzheimer's. We might cut him a break.


Tom Richmond 8 months, 1 week ago

Dean was a classmate of mine and I have always admired him. In the early 60's at the beginning of the civil rights movement, he recruited Charlie Scott, the first African American scholarship player at UNC. He also promoted equal treatment for African Americans with the local business community. If you don't think that took courage, then you are too young to remember the bitter resentment of white people toward blacks at that time, particularly in the south. North Carolina had one of the largest and most active Klu Klux Klan memberships in the U.S. Dean is remembered for his winning basketball record, running a clean program and graduating over 96% of his players, but he is receiving the Freedom Medal for promoting equal rights for African Americans when it conflicted with the public attitude in North Carolina.


Janet Scott 8 months, 1 week ago

The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States, and recognizes individuals who have made an meritorious contribution to the national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. So why is Dean receiving this award? I have no idea. Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse, Snow White, and Cinderella are seemingly more deserving.


jhawkrulz 8 months, 1 week ago

I am confused why he was selected for this award...I've never heard his name associated with peace or encouraging freedom.


FearlessJayhawk 8 months, 1 week ago

I wouldn't say the medal of freedom award is that big a deal. That, and $1.50 might get you a cup of coffee at McDonald's. Hang in there coach Self and one day you may receive this award as well.


KansasComet 8 months, 1 week ago

Dean Smith 82 years old and suffering from memory loss. Must be extremely hard for him and his loved ones. I wish him the best and congratulations on earning a prestigious award.

Whenever I think of UNC, I think of one of the best t-shirts I ever saw:

"Kansas, Birthplace of North Carolina Basketball"


Craig Carr 8 months, 1 week ago

Suck it Dean!! You sold out in New Orleans and embarrassed everyone involved. You don't deserve any medal, oh and I was also there in 1991 to see you get deservedly ejected. You are a whiner and I hope you enjoy Coach Self make a fool of your hand picked protege. Of all the notable basketball players and coaches tied to KU, Dean Smith is one I will never recognize.


Michael Luby 8 months, 1 week ago

Yah, Dean Smith was a great KU athlete and coach, left his impression on the game along with Phog Allen. But why the medal of freedom? What did he do besides the obvious? I mean did he prevent a major societal breakdown or something Im not aware of? Holy crap, if being a player and a coach for so long gets you a medal then someone should give it post humously to Dr James Naismith.


Ian Emerson 8 months, 1 week ago

Roy deffinately made it a point not to tap Into the east coast. I always thought it was kind of an unspoken thing umong KU fans during his tenure.


jaybate 8 months, 1 week ago

I hope Dean wears the Sears double knit powder blue blazer with the clip-on tie he wore to KU's '52 champs celebration and not one of his nice suits. Also, no hand puppets allowed at the White House, Dean, so leave Roy home. Finally, didn't all this XTReme shoe whore stuff start with Dean, Roy Jordan and Sonny Vacaro? Weren't shoes at the bottom of the reputed deal between Dean and Roy to have Roy recruit only west of the Mississippi, while Roy was at KU?


Jack Brooks 8 months, 1 week ago

Dean Smith hasn't shown any loyalty to Kansas in, what, 60 years or so. Why would anyone care?

That aside, I don't understand why he's worthy of this award...


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