Editor’s note: Each week the “Scott Says” Sunday page will include a flashback to a sports event or sports photo of the past. If you have a suggestion for a flashback, email Scott at email@example.com.
You probably heard that former North Carolina coach Dean Smith recently left each of his 180 varsity lettermen $200 apiece in his will, asking that the player “enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.”
What you probably have not heard is that N.C. State coach Everett Case did something similar in 1966. Case, in fact, left his players more of his money and also divided it in a much different way.
Case, one of the most influential figures in ACC basketball history, coached the Wolfpack with great success from 1946 to 1964. When he died in 1966, he had an estate worth slightly more than $200,000 (which equates to about $1.5 million in today’s dollars).
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He left two-thirds of that money to provide for his sister, Blanche Etta Case, who shared his house in Raleigh with him. Like his sister, Everett Case never married.
The other one-third of the estate – $69,525 – Case divided among 57 of his players. He decided to slice the money into 103 equal shares and then bequeathed some players as many as three shares of the money ($2,025) and some as little as half of one share ($337.50). He based how much each player received on how well they played at N.C. State, how good a teammate and student they were and what they had done after graduation.
Fred Jones, a close friend of Case’s in the 1950s and 60s and one of the executors of the coach’s estate, told The Charlotte Observer’s Whitey Kelley in 1966: “He (Case) said the players were responsible for the reputation he had attained in coaching and he wanted to show his appreciation. ... Everett was meticulous in preparing his list. He went through pictures of all his teams at State and listed names of those he wanted to remember in his will. Then he decided their unit share. It must have taken him a long time.”
Infant formula and a color TV
The Wolfpack players, much like the Tar Heels today, were quite appreciative. Former West Virginia and Duke basketball coach Bucky Waters received a full three shares – about 40 percent of his yearly salary at the time. He used his money to pay for expensive formula for his infant son, who had a severe allergy to milk.
“I was making about $5,000 a year, and that stuff was 70 cents a can and he was using three cans a day,” Waters once told Tim Peeler, the unofficial historian of N.C. State sports and author of the newly revised “Legends of N.C. State Basketball” – which I recommend for any Wolfpack fan. “So it didn’t go into a convertible or anything like that. It was a godsend.”
Joe Harand, who started on Case’s 1950 Final Four team at N.C. State and later moved to Shelby, got half a share. He used most of the $337.50 on the first color television he and his wife ever owned. With the rest, Harand had a small golden plaque made that read “Through the generosity of Everett N. Case.”
Harand set that plaque on the TV stand. And although he owned many more TVs, the plaque remained.
While more recent fans of college basketball are far more familiar with Smith’s career, it is hard to overstate the importance of Case to basketball in North Carolina. When he came from Indiana to N.C. State shortly after World War II, he brought a fast-breaking style and started beating everyone so badly that the UNCs and Dukes of the world had to get better to catch up.
It is interesting how Case and Smith split up their estate, too. Smith gave the same $200 to Michael Jordan, James Worthy and eventual Charlotte mayor Richard Vinroot, who scored a single point in his forgettable career. “I don’t think I’m ever going to cash it,” former UNC star Sam Perkins wrote in a recent blog post. “I think I might frame it and keep it to remember and honor him.”
Smith’s gift, in large part, was a token of appreciation and was worth $36,000. Case’s was more of a game-changer in terms of what the money was worth at that time – $500,000 in today’s dollars. And Case carefully decided who should get how much based on a formula of his own devising.
I don’t think one way is better than the other. But it is cool is that both men remembered and honored the players who helped make them into the basketball hall of famers they each became.
More about Case and Smith
If you want to know more about Case or Smith, here are two good ways.
There is no better expert on N.C. State athletics than Peeler, who is the author of the updated edition of “Legends of N.C. State Basketball.” It is available on Amazon.com, at local bookstores and at http://timpeeler.blogspot.com/, and includes stories and photos on Case and many other Wolfpack legends.
As for Smith, who died Feb. 7 at age 83, The Observer recently published a 128-page commemorative book called “Dean Smith: More than a Coach.” The book has already gone into a second printing because of high demand and features iconic photos of Smith, a touching foreword from Phil Ford and the best journalism about Smith and his teams from The Observer’s archives. It is available at triumphbooks.com/deansmith or wherever books are sold.