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  • Writer's picturePeter Miller

Coaches are important educational leaders in our schools, communities, and universities. The Sport and the Growing Good (SGG) podcast provides embedded, front-line insights on winning and positive development. The SGG podcast can be heard here and on all major podcast platforms.

Jim Delany served as Commissioner of the Big Ten Conference for over 30 years. Jim played basketball for Coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina. He is recognized as one of the most influential leaders in all of sports. Jim learned from, worked with, and helped shape a long list of great coaches. In this episode, we discussed:

1.  His remarkable direct and indirect lineage, which includes the likes of: James Naismith,  Ernest “Prof” Blood, Jim’s dad, Jack Dalton, Joe Lapchick, Dean Smith, Larry Brown, Eddie Fogler.

2.  Why his dad advised him to pursue law school.

3.  Coaching as “an art not a science” – which makes it difficult to predict who will be good at it.

4.  The value of experience… and the misleading indicators that the NCAA tournament can provide.

5.  Being an extrovert – who likes to “joust and laugh” – and growing up in a diverse, complex community.

6.  Sharing ownership of ideas and initiatives and building a culture of collaboration among competitors.

7.  Dean Smith as an innovator and builder of a “community of trust.”

8.  Why UNC won the close games.

9.  Why Coach Smith designed some defensive schemes to give up easy shots.

10.  Being passionate, curious, frank, prepared, and creative every day.

11.  Learning the “gestation period” for ideas.

12.  Guiding, supporting, and leaning on his Big Ten team.

13.  Re-committing to physical activity in his 60s.

14.  Learning from others (Gavitt, Byers) – and “not needing to make every mistake yourself.”


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