Roses to Coach Dean Smith for earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
It may have helped to have a Tar Heel fan in the White House, but Coach Smith’s award recognizes accomplishments beyond the basketball arena.
As staff writer Andrew Carter wrote last week, Smith championed integration by bringing on Carolina’s the first black scholarship athlete, and when Charlie Scott had to endure the glares and taunts that come with being a “first,” he had Smith’s example of how to conduct himself.
Smith, 82, coached at UNC from 1961 through 1997 and retired after 36 seasons, 879 victories and two national championships, which the Tar Heels won in 1982 and 1993. He guided the Tar Heels to the ACC tournament championship 13 times, and he led UNC to 11 Final Fours.
He is one of 16 recipients of the award this year, which will be presented at the White House. Other honorees include former President Bill Clinton; Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel in space; and Oprah Winfrey.
But fans and players like Scott don’t need medals to remind them of Smith’s true legacy.
“I base my life on the things that Coach Smith taught me and the direction and the insight that he gave me into the type of person I would want to be,” Scott said. “What would make coach Smith proud of me I would say is a question that I answer every day.”
Raspberries to the UNC Board of Governors for reversing a carefully considered plan to let male and female students share campus suites and apartments.
The board voted unanimously Friday to reverse the policy approved by the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees, which was set to take effect with students’ return to campus starting today. Four students had applied for 32 spaces set aside in a pilot program.
The policy was sought by LGBT students and their supporters who said it would give students more options for safe and comfortable campus housing. Some 99 campuses across the country have adopted similar policies, and Carolina did so only after much discussion. Former Chancellor Holden Thorp hailed it as a safety measure, citing the 2010 death of a student at Rutgers who killed himself after an incident of anti-gay bullying.
The Board of Governors changed this year with the addition of 16 new legislative appointments. The new Republican majority is intent on turning back the clock. We expect the gender-neutral housing policy will return some day and that the state’s flagship university will join its peers in adopting what seems a sensible option for those who seek it.
Roses to the town of Chapel Hill Fire Department and others for their quick response to a gasoline spill Aug. 1 at the Family Fare BP station off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The spill occurred on 1200 block of MLK near Taylor Street after a contractor had dug a hole for a footing for a new canopy, part of a renovation project. A ruptured gas tank spilled an unknown amount of gas into Crow Branch Creek, which feeds Booker Creek and Eastwood Lake, but no oil reached the lake because of the town’s quick response, officials said.
“A group of true professionals,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency coordinator Kenneth Rhame said in a letter to the town.
I was most impressed with their containment efforts,” he continued. “The coordination between the fire department and the city to get heavy equipment, dirt/gravel to construct a underflow dam (which was textbook) and the effort that the fire department put forth to get ahead of the spill and contain it was over and beyond. ... Chapel Hill is fortunate to have such a dedicated fire department.”