Dinner’s on Dean; how ‘bout a Case TV?

Published 8:31 am Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It was a couple of weeks ago when the news broke concerning the generosity of the now late Dean Smith.

The legendary UNC basketball coach, who died Feb. 7 at the age of 83, had directed in his will to send a check in the amount of $200 to every letter winner who played for him during his 36 seasons at the helm of the Tar Heels basketball program.

Like many, I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of Coach Smith. Here was a man that orchestrated 879 victories during his storied coaching career that lasted from 1961 to 1997. Here was a man that coached the Tar Heels to 17 regular season ACC titles, 11 Final Four appearances and a pair of national championships.

But of all those accolades, he may be best remembered for the way he remembered his 180 letter winners in this special way. Those men each received a letter, which included a sentence which read, “Enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.”

The total tab for “dinner” came to $36,000.

On Friday of last week I received a phone call from my good friend, Jim Shotwell, over in Murfreesboro. We chatted about Dean’s legacy and now the news of this thoughtful gift. Jim then told me that Dean wasn’t the first ACC basketball coach to perform such an act of love for his former players. He instructed me to do a bit of research on the legendary Everett Case.

Case came to NC State in 1946 after serving a five-year stint in the US Navy. Prior to that he coached high school basketball in Indiana for 23 years, compiling an astonishing 726-75 record. Included in those 700-plus wins were four Indiana state championships; the first of which came when he was only 25 years old.

That coaching success followed him to NC State where in 18 seasons he led the “Red Terrors” (later changed to Wolfpack) to a 377-134 overall record, which still stands today as the best in school history. His teams won nine consecutive conference titles from 1946-1955; six of those were in the old Southern Conference before the formation of the ACC (which his teams won the first three championships). Today, the ACC Tournament’s Most Valuable Player award is named in his honor.

But what I didn’t know about Coach Case was his deep love for his players.

At Jim’ urging, I found the following story (only a portion is used due to lack of space in this column) written in 2010 by Tim Peeler for gopack.com:

Joe Harand picked up the newspaper one morning in May 1966 (the year Case passed away) and was shocked to see his name in an article about his former basketball coach, Everett Case.

To his utter amazement, Harand learned he was one of the 57 former NC State basketball who had been left a portion of Case’s sizable estate, a gift back to the college players who helped make the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach the “Father of the ACC.”

Case left two-thirds of his money – which he tightly hoarded from his NC State salary, his many business ventures and his wise investments – to his spinster sister Blanche. The rest – a total of $69,525 – was split into 103 equal shares and given to a list of players Case hand selected.

While several other players received as many as three shares, Harand split a single share, worth approximately $675, with Nick Horvath. That was just enough for Harand and his wife Nell to purchase their first color television.

With the few dollars he had left over, Harand had a small plaque made for the television console that read: “Through the generosity of Everett N. Case.”

In the years since the coach passed away, Harand has owned several more televisions in his home in Shelby, N.C. But he always moves the plaque to the new set, in memory of the gracious gift the late coach made to his players.

Harand still loves NC State basketball. He watches it every time he gets a chance, always on a descendant of that first color television he bought “Through the Generosity of Everett N. Case.”

Thusly, my mission is complete. I’ve discovered there was more than one ACC basketball coach who showed love for his players beyond death.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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