Legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith died last month at the age of 83, but he's still taking every single letterman who played for him out to dinner.
In a touching posthumous act of gratitude, Smith's trust, following the late coach's instructions, has mailed out $200 checks to each of the nearly 200 varsity lettermen he coached. The coach had one last directive: "Enjoy a dinner out."
— Jim Dempsey (@ChestPassDemps) March 26, 2015
The letter reads, in part:
Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his lettermen. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar check with the message 'enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.' Enclosed is a check in the amount of two hundred dollars.
In an email to The Huffington Post, UNC spokesman Steve Kirschner confirmed the letter's veracity. The checks were sent to athletes who earned a varsity letter, Kirschner says, which each coach determines on an annual basis and at their own discretion.
During his tenure as coach from 1961-97, Smith named around 180 lettermen, Tim Breedlove, who oversees the trust, told USA Today. That means the total cost of buying his players a dinner out is around $36,000.
But at least one player won't honor his coach's last request.
"My wife opened the letter and handed it to me," former player Serge Zwikker told ESPN of the check. "At first I didn't know what it was, but when it hit me, it put a tear in my eye. Even after he passed, he was still all about his players."
Zwikker added, "I don't think I can cash this. If anything, I will donate it to a good cause."
Yet another item to add to the list of reasons Smith was so much more than just "Michael Jordan's Coach."