Monday, March 30, 2015

Case's Final Gift To His Players

The late Dean Smith made news last week when his will revealed that the Hall of Fame coach left about $35,000 of his final estate to former UNC-Chapel Hill players, an extremely generous and kind gift that mimicked what NC State Hall of Fame coach Everett Case did for 57 of his former Wolfpack players nearly a half century ago.

Smith sent about 180 former Tar Heel players a check for $200 and told them to have a nice dinner on him. It was the perfect gesture from the coach, who always treated his players to the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best modes of travel when his team was on the road. It was always a bit of a letdown when they made it to the NCAA Tournament and had to stay at, eat at and travel by NCAA-selected vendors.

Smith always considered treating his teams to the finest things one of the few perks he could give to players who made so much money for the school and for the NCAA.

Case, a lifetime bachelor who died of cancer in 1966 with only one living relative, set aside for his players a third of his substantial estate of more than $200,000, which he acquired from his coaching salary, his multiple business ventures (including a chain of Indiana drive-in restaurants) and many wise investments.

Dean Smith, Vic Bubas, Everett Case, Bones McKinney.
When Case died of multiple myeloma on April 30, 1966, his estate was worth a little over $200,000—that’s about $1.5 million in today’s money. Two-thirds of his estate was left for the care of his unmarried sister, Blanche Etta Case, who lived with him at his house in Raleigh’s Cameron Village.

The rest was divided into 103 shares that were doled out to 57 of his former players. Some players got as many as three shares. Some got a half a share. Each was free to spend it however they wished.
All-Americans Dick Dickey, Ronnie Shavlik, Sammy Ranzino, Bobby Speight and Vic Molodet were among those who received three shares, as did aspiring coaches Norman Sloan, Vic Bubas, Mel Thompson and Bucky Waters.

“He said his players were responsible for the reputation he had attained in coaching and he wanted to show his appreciation,” Fred H. Jones, one of the executors of Case’s will, told Whitey Bell of the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer when details were made public a few weeks after Case’s death. “Everett said he was having trouble trying to decide how to divide the estate because some of his players helped more than others, but that all of them were close to his heart.

“Everett was meticulous in preparing his list,” Jones said. “He went through pictures of all his teams at State and listed the names of those he wanted to remember in his will. Then he decided his unit share. It must have taken him a long time.

“I don’t think the general public knows just how much his boys meant to Case. His was more a father-son relationship than it was a coach.”

Everett Case
Notably missing from the list were all the players from the 1964-65 ACC championship team. Case stepped down two games into that season 50 years ago, handing the club over to his hand-picked successor, Press Maravich. Those were the ones who lifted Case up to cut down the nets one final time after the Wolfpack beat Duke in the ACC title game at Reynolds Coliseum, a nod to Case introducing that Indiana high school basketball tradition to the college game.

They had not graduated by the time Case’s will was read. However, they all served as the pallbearers at the coach’s funeral, an honor that still fills each of them with pride.

It wasn’t just superstars who received the most shares. Waters, who became head coach at West Virginia and Duke before going on to a long career in broadcasting, got three shares, even though he was a three-year reserve for the Wolfpack.

For him and his family, that gift meant more than just being remembered by his former coach. It may have helped save his young son, who had a severe milk allergy and relied on a special kind of formula for sustenance.

"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 said. “So it didn't go into a convertible or anything like that.

“It was a godsend."

Former guard Joe Harand, the last remaining member of Case’s first team, has a daily reminder of how he used the money from his half-share. He bought his first color television with the money and with the few dollars he had left over bought a gold-plated sign for his television stand that reads “Through the generosity of Everett N. Case.”

The television is long gone, but the sign remains in Harand’s home in Shelby, along with the affection he’s always felt for the coach that brought big-time basketball to North Carolina.

The late Paul Brandenburg, who played for Case in the early 1950s, used his three shares to make improvements on the house he bought in 1970 in Greensboro, North Carolina. He extended the driveway at his new home so he could install a basketball goal for his seven children—one small step in fulfilling Case’s dream of seeing a basketball goal at every home he drove by in his big red Cadillac.

Paul Brandenburg
“Dad always invited his teammates over to the house for a big party during ACC tournament weekend when it was here in Greensboro,” said Paul’s son, Brien Brandenburg. “There would be 30 or more former players and their wives come over. Many years, we could get them to go out back and start shooting 40-foot two-hand set shots and all kinds of trick shots in the backyard on that goal that Everett Case paid for.

“My youngest sister still lives in that house, and her two sons play basketball there to this day, as do all of his other grandkids when we all go over there for family get-togethers.

Here are the players who received shares from Case’s will:

Norman Sloan
Dick Dickey
Warren Cartier
Sam Ranzino
Vic Bubas
Lee Terrill
Bobby Holt
Eddie Morris
George Pickett
Paul Brandenburg
Bobby Speight
Vic Molodet
Ronnie Shavlik
Bucky Waters
George Stepanovich
Lou Pucillo
Dan Englehardt
Dan Wherry
Jack McComas
Leo Katkaveck
Eddie Bartels
Bill Kukoy
Dick Tyler
Mel Thompson
Ronnie Scheffel
Phil DiNardo
Whitey Bell
Nick Pond
Bob MacGillivray
John Richter
Smedes York
Ron Gossell
Bob Cook
Pete Jackmouski
Joe Stoll
Jim Stevenson
Bob Seitz
Tom Hopper
Ken Clark
Denny Lutz
Jim Whitfield
Paul Horvath
Joe Harand
Charlie Adams
Doug Kincaid
Herb Applebaum
Bernie Yurin
Lou Dickman
Marvin Kessler
Harold Atkins
Bob McCann
Bruce Hoadley
Bob DiStefano
John Key
Pete Auksel
Don Grenier
Les Robinson

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