Sunday, February 22, 2015

At the Student Activity Center

So today was Dean Smith's memorial service at the Dean Dome, or as Coach Smith would have had it named:  The Student Activity Center.  He was really opposed to having it named it after him. Several people said that.

It was a long afternoon.  We left my house at around 12:30, got home 5ish, but it was worth it.

I cried a lot.  It was very moving.  Few people were as well loved as he was, and rightly so.  Really an amazing guy.  I realize that I am still processing my dad's death, and that in some sense Coach Smith, like Mary's dad George, was the steady regular guy dad figure that my own more freedom-loving dad never quite wanted to be.  Not that my dad didn't have his good points.

So what can I say.  Lots of people told beautiful stories about Coach Smith and his influence on them. I should say that I am calling him Coach Smith because Roy Williams said that he never called him Dean, always Coach or Coach Smith, even after he was invited to be on a first-name basis, long after the elder of the two retired.

Many spoke well and movingly, all of them, really.  Coach Williams himself did a good job and was very direct, expressing regret for never having told Coach Smith that he loved him, and imploring all of us to let the people around us to know we loved them.  That was well done.

Going back to my wish list from a couple of days back. There was no mention or acknowledgement of the murder of the three Islamic students two days after Coach Smith died.  I thought that was in bad taste.

There was very little allusion to the academic scandals.  All the players who took the stage represented the university well. Antawn Jamison alone didn't really sound like someone who had graduated from a top-notch university, though it was noted that he in fact had.  And he still sounded like a fine human being.

Only when Dean Smith's daughter got up, unannounced, and specifically acknowledged Chancellor Tom Ross and then attested to how much her dad believed in the mission of the university, did we start to get anywhere.  Then Robert Seymour of the Binkley Baptist Church, minister to Coach Smith and maybe to Bill Friday too, was helped to the podium by Brad Daugherty (who himself had done the university proud in his remarks).  Seymour spoke movingly, and noted that the university should never place athletics before academics.  Point blank.

Well done.

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