K-State Mourns the Passing of Bill Guthridge

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Former Kansas State basketball player and assistant coach Bill Guthridge passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 77 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

A consensus National Coach of the Year in 1998 as head coach at North Carolina, Guthridge played three seasons for Naismith and College Basketball Hall of Fame head coach Fred "Tex" Winter from 1957-60. The 6-foot, 160-pound guard from Parsons, Kansas helped the Wildcats to a 63-17 (.788) record during his playing career, which included a trip to the 1958 Final Four and three consecutive Big Seven/Eight Conference titles in 1958, 1959 and 1960. He played in 41 games in his playing career, scoring 111 points.

Guthridge was a member of one of the greatest men's basketball teams in school history -- the 1958-59 squad -- which posted a 25-2 record and held the school's only No. 1 ranking before being upset in the NCAA Midwest Regional Final by Oscar Robertson and No. 5 Cincinnati.

An all-around athlete (basketball, football and golf) at Parsons High School, Guthridge played freshman basketball at Parsons Junior College in 1956-57 before transferring to K-State.

Following a stint as the head basketball coach at Scott City High School in Scott City, Kansas, Guthridge returned to K-State in 1962 to serve as graduate assistant coach of the freshman basketball team. He was elevated to a full-time assistant coach role in 1964, helping Winter guide the Wildcats to a 62-41 (.602) cumulative record for four seasons (1964-68). He was a member of Winter's last team in 1967-68, which captured the Big Eight title and advanced to the NCAA Midwest Regional in Wichita with a 19-9 record.

Guthridge also spent time as school's ticket manager (1963-64) and was men's golf coach from 1965-67, leading the Wildcats to a third-place finish at the 1965 Big Eight Championships.

Guthridge left K-State in 1967 to become an assistant coach at North Carolina, where he spent 30 years with legendary coach Dean Smith before succeeding him as head coach in 1997. In 33 seasons at UNC, he was part of 960 college coaching victories, including 867 as an assistant coach, two NCAA Championships (1982 and 1993), 12 Final Fours, 16 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) regular season championships, and 13 ACC Tournament titles. He also mentored five National Players of the Year, six ACC Players of the Year, five ACC Rookies of the Year and 28 first team All-ACC players. He coached 66 players who were selected in the NBA and/or ABA Drafts.

Guthridge posted an 80-28 record in three seasons (1997-2000) as head coach at North Carolina, guiding the Tar Heels to the 1998 and 2000 Final Fours. He joined Ohio State's Fred Taylor as just the second coach in NCAA history to lead teams to two Final Fours in his first three seasons as a head coach. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1997-98 by the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC), the Atlanta Tipoff Club, CBS/Chevrolet, the Columbus (Ohio) Touchdown Club and The Sporting News after helping the Tar Heels to a 34-4 record. The 34 wins still ranks as the most by a first-year head coach in NCAA history.

Guthridge retired from coaching after leading North Carolina to the Final Four in 2000.

In addition to his college coaching accolades, Guthridge was an assistant coach to Smith -- along with Hall of Fame coach John Thompson -- in 1976 when the United States won the Olympic gold medal in Montreal.

Guthridge earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from K-State in 1960 and a master's in physical education from the school in 1963. He and his wife, Leesie, had two sons, Jamie and Stuart, and a daughter, Megan.

Memorial services are pending.