The Tar Heels lost a member of their basketball community in Bill Guthridge Tuesday, as he passed away at the age of 77 with heart failure. For decades Guthridge was the right-hand man for legendary coach Dean Smith, while also having his own successful stint as coach of North Carolina.
Guthridge, who was head coach from 1997-200, was known for his fierce loyalty to North Carolina. In all, he was part of the program for 33 years.
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Guthridge played college basketball at Kansas State and began his coaching career as an assistant for the Tex Winter’s Wildcats before joining Dean Smith at UNC in 1967. The two coaches worked side-by-side, with Guthridge assuming the role of top assistant after just a few seasons, for two national titles and multiple Final Four appearances.
“I’m extremely saddened by the passing of Coach Guthridge, aka ‘Coach Gut,’ especially coming so close to the loss of Coach Smith,” Antawn Jamison, the 1998 National Player of the Year, said in statement. “He, like Coach Smith, was more of a mentor and father figure than anything else. His legacy and contributions to my life and to our University will live on and he’ll be much more remembered for his sense of humor and class just as much as his coaching.”
Guthridge was truly a beloved figure in Chapel Hill. In his three years as head coach of the Tar Heels, Guthridge went a more-than respectable 80-28 while taking North Carolina to two Final Four appearances.
RIP Coach Gut.