Bill Guthridge

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Bill Guthridge
Bill Gutheridge in January 2013.jpg
Guthridge in 2013
Biographical details
Born(1937-07-27)July 27, 1937
Parsons, Kansas
DiedMay 12, 2015(2015-05-12) (aged 77)
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Playing career
1957–1960Kansas State
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1962–1967Kansas State (assistant)
1967–1997North Carolina (assistant)
1997–2000North Carolina
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
ACC Tournament (1998)
2× Final Four (1998, 2000)
Naismith College Coach of the Year (1998)

William Wallace Guthridge (July 27, 1937 – May 12, 2015) was an American college basketball coach. Guthridge initially gained recognition after serving for 30 years as Dean Smith's assistant at the University of North Carolina. Following Dean Smith's retirement in 1997, Guthridge served as head coach of the Tar Heels for three seasons. He took the team to the NCAA Final Four twice in his three seasons and was named national coach of the year in 1998, before retiring in 2000.[1]


Guthridge was born in Parsons, Kansas.[2] He attended Kansas State University, and graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics in 1960 and an M.A. in Education in 1963. He was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. While a student at Kansas State, Guthridge played guard under head coach Fred "Tex" Winter, and helped the team advance to the 1958 Final Four. After graduating from Kansas State, he coached at Scott City High School in Kansas for two seasons before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach for Tex Winter from 1962-1967. In five years on Winter's staff, Guthridge helped lead the Wildcats to a 93-43 record, a pair of Big Eight Conference crowns and the 1964 NCAA Final Four. He also was head golf coach for the Wildcats.

Following his stint at Kansas State, Guthridge moved to North Carolina to join the staff of fellow Kansas native Dean Smith. From 1972 onward, he was Smith's top assistant. In 1976, he also served as an assistant coach to Smith as the United States won the gold medal in men's basketball at the Summer Olympics in Montreal.

As an assistant, Guthridge was renowned for his success in coaching the fundamentals of pivot play to a long series of successful UNC big men, and as the Tar Heels' primary shooting coach. Guthridge also handled many day-to-day responsibilities in the program and oversaw UNC's summer basketball camps. While serving as an assistant coach, Guthridge turned down several head coaching opportunities, preferring to remain in Chapel Hill working alongside Smith. On one occasion, he actually accepted the head coaching post at Penn State, but stepped down from the post a few days later.[3]

Head coaching career[edit]

Dean Smith unexpectedly retired as head basketball coach at North Carolina just two months before the start of the 1997–98 season, and Guthridge was immediately named his successor. School officials stressed that Guthridge was not merely a placeholder for then-Kansas coach Roy Williams, signing him to a five-year contract.

In his three seasons as head coach Guthridge led the Tar Heels to the NCAA Final Four twice, in 1998 and again in 2000. He is one of five people to have appeared in the Final Four as both a player and coach. In 1998, Guthridge inherited a team that had been to the 1997 Final Four the previous year under Smith. With a wealth of returning talent, Guthridge instituted a "six starters" system, whereby the team's top six players, Antawn Jamison, Vince Carter, Ed Cota, Shammond Williams, Ademola Okulaja and Makhtar N'Diaye rotated positions in the starting five. Guthridge coached that team to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship, a school record-tying 34 wins (including 30 wins going into the NCAA Tournament – the most in school history at the time) and an appearance in the Final Four, where they lost to Utah. Following the 1997–98 season, several organizations named him National Coach of the Year and he received the Naismith College Coach of the Year award.

The next season, the team earned a #3 seed in the 1999 NCAA tournament, but was upset in the first round by Weber State, which, before their first-round exit in 2021, was the only time that the Tar Heels failed to win a game in the tournament since it dropped first-round byes in 1980.

In 2000, the Tar Heels struggled in the regular season, falling out of the polls for the first time since the start of the 1990-91 season. At the time, their run of 172 consecutive weeks in the AP Poll was the second-longest in college basketball history.[4] The team finished 18-13 – UNC's worst regular-season record in 11 years. However, the team came alive in the 2000 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. With the 8th seed in the South Region, they upset top-seeded Stanford in the second round and continued to the Final Four, where they lost to Florida. Guthridge retired after the season, having spent the first 43 years of his adult life as a player, high school coach, and college coach.

Guthridge was involved in a total of 14 men's Final Fours as either a player or coach, more than any other person in history—one each as a player and assistant at Kansas State, 10 as a North Carolina assistant, and two as North Carolina head coach.[5]

He died at his home on May 12, 2015, after an extended illness, alongside his family.[6]

Head coaching record[edit]

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
North Carolina Tar Heels (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1997–2000)
1997–98 North Carolina 34–4 13–3 2nd NCAA Division I Final Four
1998–99 North Carolina 24–10 10–6 3rd NCAA Division I First Round
1999–00 North Carolina 22–14 9–7 T–3rd NCAA Division I Final Four
North Carolina: 80–28 32-16
Total: 80–28

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Guthridge, Bill: Inducted 2005". Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
  3. ^ Retrieved 2015-05-13. Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  4. ^ AP Weekly Appearance Streaks: All-Time
  5. ^ "Former UNC Chapel Hill Coach Bill Guthridge Has Died". Raleigh–Durham: WTVD. May 13, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
  6. ^ AP Newswire (2015-05-13). "Former UNC coach, assistant Bill Guthridge dies at 77". Archived from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-13.

External links[edit]