"There is a point in every contest when sitting on the sidelines is not an option," Smith writes in a message posted on the Obama web site. "That is why Linnea and I are writing to urge you to join Barack Obama's campaign for President."
Smith is known for liberal politics – he pushed for a program to provide medical insurance to children of low-income families, according to this story – but as Jason Zengerle notes, one of the three blurbs on the back of Smith's autobiogrpahy comes from none other than John McCain.
"Dean Smith is not merely a basketball coach of historic accomplishments," McCain wrote. "He is also a man of uncommon integrity and decency."
In his endorsement of Obama, Smith wrote that he and his wife "respect all that Senator McCain has done for our country." He adds: "However, we feel strongly that it is Barack Obama who offers the real leadership our nation needs to tap its potential as a land of opportunity — even as we face difficult times at home and abroad."
North Carolina, which once looked like it would go comfortably to McCain, is now a tossup state; a recent Rasmussen poll there showed Obama leading by one percentage point.