Guthridge in 2013
July 27, 1937|
|Died||May 12, 2015
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1962–1967||Kansas State (assistant)|
|1967–1997||North Carolina (assistant)|
|Head coaching record|
|Accomplishments and honors|
|ACC Tournament champion (1998)
2× Final Four (1998, 2000)
|Naismith College Coach of the Year (1998)|
William Wallace "Bill" 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.
Guthridge was born in Parsons, Kansas. 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, from 1967-1997 Guthridge was an assistant at the University of North Carolina under head coach Dean Smith, a fellow Kansas native. 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.
Head coaching career
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 named his successor. School officials stressed that Guthridge was not merely a placeholder for 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 the 1998 tournament and again in the 2000 tournament. 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 Coach 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 it was upset in the first round by Weber State – the first time that the Tar Heels have failed to win a game in the tournament since it dropped first-round byes in 1982. In 2000, the team struggled in the regular season, falling out of the polls for the first time since the start of the 1990-91 season. 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 on to the Final Four, where the Tar Heels lost to Florida. After the 2000 season, Guthridge retired from coaching.
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.
He died at his home on May 12, 2015 after an extended illness, alongside his family.
Head coaching record
|North Carolina Tar Heels (Atlantic Coast Conference) (1997–2000)|
|1997–98||North Carolina||34–4||13–3||2nd||NCAA Final Four|
|1998–99||North Carolina||24–10||10–6||3rd||NCAA First Round|
|1999–00||North Carolina||22–14||10–6||3rd||NCAA Final Four|
National champion Postseason invitational champion
- "Guthridge, Bill: Inducted 2005". Kansas Sports Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 28, 2015.
- "Former UNC Chapel Hill Coach Bill Guthridge Has Died". Raleigh–Durham: WTVD-TV. May 13, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2015.
- AP Newswire (2015-05-13). "Former UNC coach, assistant Bill Guthridge dies at 77". charlotteobserver.com. Retrieved 2015-05-13.