CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Bill Guthridge, the longtime assistant to Dean Smith who succeeded him as North Carolina's head coach, has died. He was 77.
The school announced Wednesday that Guthridge died Tuesday night. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Guthridge spent three decades as an assistant to Smith, helping him bring national championships to Chapel Hill in 1982 and 1993.
When Smith retired as Division I's winningest men's coach shortly before the 1997-98 season, Guthridge was promoted to replace him, and he guided the Tar Heels to two Final Fours in three seasons.
Guthridge went 80-28 from 1997-2000, reaching Final Fours in 1998 and 2000 before retiring that June.
Smith died in February at age 83.
The careers and lives of the two coaches from the state of Kansas were solidly intertwined. Both played college ball in that state -- Smith at Kansas, Guthridge at Kansas State -- and coached at their alma maters before coming to North Carolina.
Guthridge joined Smith's staff for the 1967-68 season, starting out as the freshman coach and a co-assistant varsity coach and eventually becoming the Hall of Famer's most trusted assistant.
North Carolina made 29 NCAA Tournament appearances in Guthridge's 33 years on the staff and finished no worse than third in the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season standings every year -- with 16 first-place finishes and 10 more in second. The Tar Heels either won the ACC Tournament or finished atop the league standings -- or did both -- in 23 of those seasons.
After Smith retired in October 1997, then-athletic director Dick Baddour elevated Guthridge to the top job. That season, he led the Tar Heels to a 34-4 record and the final No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25, earned the ACC Coach of the Year award and guided North Carolina to the Final Four before losing to Utah.
The Tar Heels then went 24-10 in 1998-99 but were upset by Weber State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. In Guthridge's final season, he went 18-13 -- at the time, the program's worst finish in decades -- but bounced back in the postseason to reach North Carolina's 15th Final Four before losing in the national semifinals to Florida. He stepped down 2 1/2 months later.