Dean Smith is the all-time winningest NCAA Division I basketball coach with a career record of 879 wins and 254 losses (.776 winning percentage). His teams won two national championships and appeared in eleven Final Fours. He was National Coach of the Year in 1977, 1979, 1982, and 1993. His 1961-62 season was the only losing season he experienced and his legendary coaching earned him the Head Coach of the US Olympic Team in 1980 that won the Gold Medal in Montreal.
Smith was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1983. He is also a member of the North Carolina Hall of Fame.
His teams hold the record for Division I 20-win seasons with 27 consecutive 20-win seasons from 1970-1997 and thirty 20-win seasons total. His teams won at least 25 game in twenty-two seasons.
The basketball arena at UNC is named the Dean Smith center and is widely referred to as the "Dean Dome". Upon his retirement in 1997, ESPN named Smith one of the five all-time greatest American coaches of any sport.
Smith is known for numerous basketball coaching techniques including:
* The "tired signal," by which a player would use a hand signal (closed fist) to indicate that he needed to come out for a rest.
* Huddling at the free throw line before a foul shot.
* Encouraging players who scored a basket to point a finger at the teammate who passed them the ball, in honor of the passer's selflessness.
* A number of defenses, including the run-and-jump, the point zone and double-teaming the screen-and-roll.
* Starting all his team's seniors on the last home game of the season ("Senior Day") as a way of honoring the contributions of the subs as well as the stars. During one season that the team included six seniors, he put all six on the floor to start the game--drawing a technical foul rather than leave one of them out.
* Popularizing the "four corners offense" for stalling with a lead near the end of the game. They ran the offense so effectively that in 1985, the NCAA instituted a shot clock to speed up play.
Smith played basketball at the University of Kansas where his team won the national championship in 1952 and finished second in 1953 (losing to North Carolina in triple overtime even though Wilt Chamberlain was the Kansas center). After graduation, he served as assistant coach at Kansas during the 1953-54 season before going into the Air Force. He was named Assistant Coach to Frank McGuire at UNC in 1958.