Bo Shepard

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Bo Shepard
Shepard pictured in Yackety yak 1936, UNC yearbook
Sport(s) College basketball
Current position
Title Head coach
Team North Carolina
Biographical details
Born September 18, 1904
South Carolina, United States
Died May 8, 1983(1983-05-08) (aged 78)
Chapel Hill, North Carolina[1]
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1931–35 North Carolina
Head coaching record
Overall 69–16
Accomplishments and honors
1935 - Southern Conference Regular Season
1935 - Southern Conference Tournament

George Edward "Bo" Shepard (September 18, 1904 – May 8, 1983) was best known for being the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels men's basketball team from 1931 through 1935.

Early life and family[edit]

He was the seventh child of Alexander Hurlbutt Shepard and Mary Augusta Westbrook.

Bo Shepard attended New Hanover High School in Wilmington, North Carolina.[2]

Bo's family had various ties to athletics at North Carolina. His brother, Norman Shepard, became the head coach for North Carolina before Bo, and two of his other brothers, Caryle Shepard and Alex Shepard, played basketball for North Carolina.[3][4] Bo and Norman Shepard are the only pair of sibling to have ever coached the North Carolina men's basketball team.[4]

Coaching North Carolina Men's Basketball[edit]

In 1929, Bo Shepard joined the University of North Carolina's athletic faculty as an assistant graduate manager of athletics.[2]

In 1932, James Ashmore departed as the head coach of the North Carolina men's basketball team, and Bo Shepard took over as the new head coach.[2]

In his first regular season, Shepard's North Carolina team was fairly successful winning 13 of 17 games and 6 out of 9 games in conference.[4] In the 1933 Southern Conference Tournament, Shepard's North Carolina team managed to make it past Tennessee in the first round and beat the Kentucky in the second round, which was coached by Adolph Rupp in his second season.[4] North Carolina beat Auburn to go to the finals of the Southern Conference championship where they lost a close game 24–26 to Georgia.[4]

At the end of the 1932–33 season, 13 schools left the Southern Conference to create the Southeastern Conference, which greatly changed the playing schedule and the usual opponents for North Carolina.[5]

"There was no such thing as athletic scholarships or grants-in-aid in my day. In fact players had to sign a paper swearing that they hadn't received any aid for athletics from the University of North Carolina or any school in the conference. So what you had to do, you had to set your sights on several boys that you wanted to work on, and you had to go out and get jobs for them. There was no cash involved, and that was legitimate aid because it had to go through what was called a Self-Help Committee. So the boys actually worked for what they got."
- Bo Shepard[5]

Going into the 1933–34 season, Shepard managed to recruit Ivan "Jack" Glace, who would go on to be the first of several prize recruits for Shepard.[5] Glace was originally not much of a basketball player. "[Glace] was so awkward that he could hardly walk without tripping over his feet, but he wanted to play so badly he didn't know what to do," said Shepard. Shepard worked with Glace throughout his college years and eventually he would become all-conference in his senior year, which Shepard considered one of his major accomplishment.[6]

During the 1933–34 season, the Tar Heels went 11–4 in the regular season.[5] In the 1934 Southern Conference Tournament, the Tar Heels won their first game against Virginia Tech, but lost in double overtime to South Carolina in the next round.[5]

The 1934–35 season saw an increase in the North Carolina Tar Heels as they managed to go 17–3 and tied for second with the best regular season record.[7] This squad was helped out by a pair of siblings, Dave and Jim McCrachren that both played on the team.[7] In the 1935 Southern Conference Tournament, the Tar Heels managed to beat Virginia in the first round but lost the Duke in the second round.[7]

Shepard's last season, 1935–36, would be his best. The Tar Heels only lost two games during the regular season and won the regular season championship for the first time in nine years.[8] In the 1936 Southern Conference Championship, the Tar Heels beat South Carolina, NC State, and Washington and Lee to win its fifth Southern Conference Championship.[8]

Shepard has stated that in general his teams focused disproportionally on defense.[9] Shepard stated that his teams "were never blown out badly. If you scored in the high 30s, you had a real good night in those days. Our goal was to keep the other team from scoring 20 points."[9]

Though only winning the regular season and conference title once, Bo Shepard's was greatly successful as a basketball coach finishing 69–16 overall and with the third best overall winning percentage of any North Carolina men's basketball coach with a winning percentage of .812.[10]

After coaching[edit]

Even though he was successful at coaching at UNC, Bo Shepard had to step down as head coach due to health problems, and let Walter Skidmore take over as head coach.[8] Even though he was no longer the head coach of the Tar Heels, Shepard would continue to work for the University of North Carolina until 1970.[2]

Bo Shepard went on to be president and vice president of the American Association of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.[2] He also served as president of the College of Physical Education Association and Phi Delta Kappa, a professional education fraternity.[2] Bo Shepard also wrote the textbook Interscholastic Athletics.[2] Bo Shepard died on May 8, 1983.[2]

Head coaching record[edit]

Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
North Carolina (Southern Conference) (1931–1935)
1931–32 North Carolina 16–5 6–3 T–5th
1932–33 North Carolina 12–5 5–3 T–5th
1933–34 North Carolina 18–4 12–2 T–2nd
1934–35 North Carolina 23–2 12–1 1st
North Carolina: 69–16 35–9
Total: 69–16

      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


  • Rappoport, Ken (1976). Tar Heel: North Carolina basketball. Srode Publishing. ISBN 0-87397-113-2. 
  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Dr. George Shepard dies". Associated Press (Star News). 1983-05-10. pp. 3D. Retrieved 2010-10-15.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  3. ^ Rappoport 2002, p. 14
  4. ^ a b c d e Powell 2005, p. 21
  5. ^ a b c d e Powell 2005, p. 25
  6. ^ Rappoport 2002, pp. 23–24
  7. ^ a b c Powell 2005, p. 26
  8. ^ a b c Powell 2005, p. 27
  9. ^ a b Rappoport 2002, p. 18
  10. ^ Rappoport 2002, p. 25