Academic counselor succumbs to cancer

CHAPEL HILL --- Burgess McSwain, associate director of the academic support center at the University of North Carolina athletics department, has died at the age of 60. McSwain passed away Friday at UNC Hospitals as a result of complications from surgery. She had been battling colon cancer for several years.

((Image courtesy of UNC Ath. Comm.))

McSwain, a native of Morganton, began academic counseling for student-athletes at Carolina in the early 1960s. For the past 20-plus years, she worked closely with the Tar Heel men's basketball program.

Her responsibilities include teaching, scheduling, registration, structured study halls, recruiting, tutorial services and monitoring progress toward degrees for the student-athletes in those programs. "Her passing is a huge loss," says Roy Williams. "Burgess was an integral part of the University and the Carolina Basketball Family. She was concerned about each and every student-athlete in the program. She didn¹t care about the number of points they scored. Instead, she cared about their lives off the court and, primarily, their academic endeavors. Burgess will truly be missed."

"Burgess was a devoted teacher and good friend," says former Tar Heel coach Bill Guthridge. "She was the epitome of a teacher, who was dedicated to her students. For more than 20 years she was always here to work with our players and she worked them day and night. There were many times we'd get back from a road trip at 1 a.m. and Burgess was there waiting for us because one or more of the players had a test in the morning and she wanted them to prepare more. No one associated with Carolina Basketball through the years was loved more than Burgess. We will all miss her very much."

"I'm so sad," says Jackie Manuel, a rising senior. "She helped us out a whole lot my freshman year, with much more than just academics. She helped Jawad (Williams), Melvin (Scott) and me work through some tough times that year and was like my second mom. I¹m really going to miss her."

Former Carolina basketball forward Will Johnson, a Morehead Scholar and Academic All-ACC honoree, said, "Burgess was completely committed to making sure the players earned a good education. She always put our needs above her own and that¹s why she meant so much to us."

She is survived by her father, Daniel Murphy, 87, of Chapel Hill.

The Burgess McSwain Fund has been established in her honor. Contributions may be made in care of the UNC Department of Geography, Saunders Hall, Campus Box 3220, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27599-3220.

The funeral will be held on Monday, July 12, at 2 p.m. at the Chapel of the Cross (304 East Franklin Street in Chapel Hill). A reception will be held in the church parlor following the service.

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