"It’s such a great loss for North Carolina – our state, the University, of course the Tar Heel basketball program, but really the entire basketball world. We lost one of our greatest ambassadors for college basketball for the way in which a program should be run. We lost a man of the highest integrity who did so many things off the court to help make the world a better place to live in.
He set the standard for loyalty and concern for every one of his players, not just the games won or lost.
He was the greatest there ever was on the court but far, far better off the court with people. His concern for people will be the legacy I will remember most.
He was a mentor to so many people; he was my mentor. He gave me a chance but, more importantly, he shared with me his knowledge, which is the greatest gift you can give someone.
I’m 64 years old and everything I do with our basketball program and the way I deal with the University is driven by my desire to make Coach Smith proud. When I came back to Carolina, the driving force was to make him proud and I still think that today.
I’d like to say on behalf of all our players and coaches, past and present, that Dean Smith was the perfect picture of what a college basketball coach should have been. We love him and we will miss him."
"Dean Smith was a legendary Hall of Fame coach who will long be remembered as an innovator in the game of basketball and a pioneer for social justice. His legacy will always be a part of the University of North Carolina and will continue to inspire students for generations to come."
ACC Commissioner John Swofford
"We’ve known for a while this day would come, but it still hits hard.
Sometimes we are blessed to be around certain people in our lives. For me, one of those people was Dean Smith. For 21 years I had the privilege of working with him.
He personified excellence day-in and day-out, year-in and year-out. The remarkable number of wins is well chronicled, but most importantly those wins came while teaching and living the right values. He won, his players graduated and he played by the rules. He was first and foremost a teacher, and his players were always the most important part of his agenda.
His impact on the University of North Carolina, the Atlantic Coast Conference, college basketball and the sport itself, is immeasurable. His leadership off the court in areas such as race relations and education were less chronicled, but just as important.
Sometimes the word legend is used with too little thought. In this instance, it almost seems inadequate. He was basketball royalty, and we have lost one of the greats in Dean Smith."
Former UNC head coach Bill Guthridge:
"Dean was a great friend and a great coach. I will miss him dearly. He was devoted to me and I to him and I will forever be grateful for our friendship."
Former Director of Athletic Dick Baddour
"Dean was the face of the University of North Carolina for many years. He was a great coach, but an even greater teacher. His legacies are many but what stands out to me is his devotion to his players. While he taught us about the importance of team work, he taught us even more about the importance of relationships."
President Barack Obama
Last night, America lost not just a coaching legend but a gentleman and a citizen. When he retired, Dean Smith had won more games than any other college basketball coach in history. He went to 11 Final Fours, won two national titles, and reared a generation of players who went on to even better things elsewhere, including a young man named Michael Jordan—and all of us from Chicago are thankful for that.
But more importantly, Coach Smith showed us something that I've seen again and again on the court – that basketball can tell us a lot more about who you are than a jumpshot alone ever could. He graduated more than 96 percent of his players and taught his teams to point to the teammate who passed them the ball after a basket. He pushed forward the Civil Rights movement, recruiting the first black scholarship athlete to North Carolina and helping to integrate a restaurant and a neighborhood in Chapel Hill. And in his final years, Coach Smith showed us how to fight an illness with courage and dignity. For all of that, I couldn’t have been prouder to honor Coach Smith with Medal of Freedom in 2013.
Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to his wife Linnea, to his family, and to his fans all across North Carolina and the country.