Local News

Smith Helped Break the Color Barrier in Sports in the South

Posted October 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Dean Smith's greatest influence on basketball may have come in 1967 when he recruited Charlie Scott. UNC-Chapel Hill became the first white school in the Deep South to sign a black player.

Dean Smith has coached some of the greatest athletes in the history of the game. Fayetteville State basketball coach Rick Duckett was the first African-American graduate assistant at UNC.

Smith played and recruited Scott from 1968-1970. He was one of the first African-American players in the Southeast.

"Dean was very much involved in these issues that some might regard as controversial," said Rev. Robert Seymour, Smith's former pastor.

Seymour and Smith were both members of an interracial congregation at Binkley Memorial Baptist Church.

Before the Civil Rights Acts African-Americans were not allowed to eat at The Pines restaurant. After the law changed it was one of the first places that Seymour came with his good friend Smith.

"Dean Smith was the obvious one to go with a black person to that restaurant to make sure that they would comply with the law," said Seymour.